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Food Chem. 2013 Aug 15;139(1-4):885-92. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.12.054. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Structures and reactions of compounds involved in pink discolouration of onion.

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Somatech Center, House Foods Corporation, 1-4 Takanodai, Yotsukaido, Chiba 284-0033, Japan.


In "pinking" of onion, E-(+)-S-(1-propenyl)-L-cysteine sulfoxide is first cleaved by alliinase to yield colour developers (CDs), which react with amino acids, such as valine, to form pigment precursors (PPs). The PPs react with naturally occurring carbonyls (NOCs) to form pigments. By inducing a PP from previously isolated cepathiolanes and L-valine, it was confirmed that cepathiolanes constitute at least a part of the CDs. From the PP and formaldehyde as a NOC, two colourless and two pink compounds were derived. The structure of one of the colourless compounds was established as 2-(2-(1-(1-carboxy-2-methylpropyl)-3,4-dimethyl-1H-pyrrol-2-yl)methyl-3,4-dimethyl-1H-pyrrol-1-yl)-3-methylbutanoic acid. The structures of the other colourless compound and the pink pigments were predicted based on their molecular formula and the MS(n) spectral data. A trimeric pigment structure was predicted for one of the pink pigments, which was believed to be the first to be reported in the literature. With these, a new reaction scheme for "pinking" of onion is proposed.

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