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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Jan;48(1):94-118. doi: 10.1080/10408390601177589.

The biochemical and functional food properties of the bowman-birk inhibitor.

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  • 1Food Protein Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Food Science, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.

Erratum in

  • Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Sep;48(8):798.


The Bowman-Birk inhibitor (BBI) is a small water-soluble protein present in soybean and almost all monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous seeds. The molecular size of BBI ranges from 1,513 Da to about 20,000 Da. BBI is to seeds what alpha(1)-antitrypsin is to humans. Soy-based food products rich in BBI include soybean grits, soymilk, oilcake, soybean isolate, and soybean protein concentrate. BBI is stable within the pH range encountered in most foods, can withstand boiling water temperature for 10 min, resistant to the pH range and proteolytic enzymes of the gastrointestinal tract, bioavailable, and not allergenic. BBI reduces the proteolytic activities of trypsin, chymotrypsin, elastase, cathepsin G, and chymase, serine protease-dependent matrix metalloproteinases, urokinase protein activator, mitogen activated protein kinase, and PI3 kinase, and upregulates connexin 43 (Cx43) expression. Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of BBI against tumor cells in vitro, animal models, and human phase IIa clinical trials. FDA considers BBI as a drug. In 1999, FDA allowed a health claim on food labels stating that a daily diet containing 25 grams of soy protein, also low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease [corrected] This review highlights the biochemical and functional food properties of the Bowman-Birk inhibitor.

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