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Comparative resistance of food proteins to adult and infant in vitro digestion models.

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  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


IgE-mediated allergy to milk and egg is widespread in industrialised countries and mainly affects infants and young children. It may be connected to an incomplete digestion of dietary proteins causing an inappropriate immune response in the gut. In order to study this, a biochemical model of infant gastroduodenal digestion has been developed, which has reduced levels of protease (eightfold for pepsin and tenfold for trypsin and chymotrypsin), phosphatidylcholine and bile salts, compared with the adult model. This model has been used to study the behaviour of three characterised food-relevant proteins (bovine beta-lactoglobulin (beta-Lg), beta-casein (beta-CN) and hen's egg ovalbumin), all of which are relevant cows' milk and hens' egg allergens. Digestion products were characterised using electrophoresis, immunochemical techniques and MS. These showed that ovalbumin and beta-CN were digested more slowly using the infant model compared with the adult conditions. Resistant fragments of beta-CN were found in the infant model, which correspond to previously identified IgE epitopes. Surprisingly, beta-Lg was more extensively degraded in the infant model compared with the adult one. This difference was attributed to the tenfold reduction in phosphatidylcholine concentration in the infant model limiting the protective effect of this phospholipid on beta-Lg digestion.

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