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Encapsulation of lipophilic active ingredients enhancing their bioavailability

Researchers from the French National Institute of Agronomic Research have developed a new system of encapsulation of ingredients as dry emulsion. This patented technology effectively protects lipophilic active ingredients, and enhances their bioavailability. It offers many applications in the food industry, for pharmaceuticals or cosmetics.

Medium size of droplets (µm) for a powder emulsion oil/water re-dissolved in water. © inra
Updated on 01/06/2016
Published on 03/28/2013

The efficacy of an active ingredient is dependent to its stability during the life cycle of the product is included in, namely food process, storage, and also to its bioavailability for target tissues. In the framework of the Carnot Institute Qualiment®’ strategic programs, researchers from INRA have developed a new system of encapsulation of ingredients as dry emulsion. This technology effectively protects lipophilic active ingredients from degradation and enhances their availability. A proof of concept was obtained using as model ingredients the lutein and the docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, which is widely used in food for the prevention of diseases such as metabolic syndrome, AMD, osteoporosis and cardiovascular health.

This technology of encapsulation of lipophilic active ingredients can improve their bioavailability of at least 150% over the same lipophilic active ingredients ingested without encapsulation. Furthermore, unlike other similar technologies, the patented process ensures the physico-chemical stability of the vector in addition to the stability of the lipophilic active ingredients.

The first step of the production of this dry emulsion consists in forming a water-in-oil emulsion. It enables to develop an emulsion consisting of a double layer of protection for the lipophilic active ingredients. This double layer also provides a physico-chemical stabilization of the vector, even once integrated in a food product. Lipophilic active ingredients are included in the vector with an antioxidant ingredient to ensure their physico-chemical stability. In order to obtain the dry emulsion, the aqueous phase is removed by freeze-drying to ensure the stability of labile compounds and the preservation of their nutritional qualities. Lipophilic active ingredients of this dried emulsion show, after re-dissolution in an aqueous phase, identical or similar dimensional and structural characteristics to the particles of the oil-in-water emulsion prior to drying, as well as similar chemical characteristics (oxidation, reactivity) with a proven absence of lipid oxidation.

The size of this vector ranges between 100 nm and 2 µm. Lipophilic active ingredients are thus microencapsulated. In addition, these dry emulsions can be stored (no chemical evolution during a 1-year storage at 4 °C) and easily transported, which optimizes the distribution / transport phase of the product life cycle.

This vector allows the active ingredients to progress along the digestive tract without deterioration or with reduced deterioration in the gastric step of the upper gastrointestinal tract, while promoting their release in the intestinal environment. This approach allows to improve their bioavailability for the targeted tissues, namely in this study, plasma, muscle, liver, and adipose tissue.

This vector, used in powder form, can be included as an ingredient in formulations for human or animal food, drugs, or cosmetics (the powder was successfully incorporated in cream desserts, yogurt, solid emulsions of meat). Moreover, the development of this vector to an industrial scale has been tested.

The process for the production of this vector containing at least one lipophilic active ingredient is protected under the French patent application N° 1260928 filed by INRA on November 16th, 2012. INRA Transfert is in charge of the development of this innovation by licensing for commercial applications.

Scientific contact(s):

  • Marc ANTON UMR Biopolymères, Interactions, Assemblages
  • Lionel BRETILLON UMR Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation
  • Jean-Michel CHARDIGNY UMR Unité de Nutrition Humaine
Chargée de Valorisation - INRA Transfert:
Pauline SOUVIGNIER (01 42 75 93 31)
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Qualiment: the scientific excellency research network to promote innovation in your company

The developement of foods at the same time healthy and tasty is an economical and societal stake in expansion. The French National Institute of Research in Agronomy (INRA) and its partners the University of Burgundy, the graduate school AgroSup Dijon, Welience, the University of Auvergne and the clinical trial platform (CRNH) of Auvergne have launched the network Qualiment on the 1st of July 2009, on the pattern of the Carnot Institutes labalized by the French National Research Agency on 2005 and 2006.
The aim of this network is to make easier and promote bilateral research and to give access for industrials to the scientific excellency of those public research laboratories.

> more informations: www.qualiment.fr