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Evaluate antioxidant activity of phytosteryl ferulates using a simple process.

Gamma-oryzanol, a mixture of phenolics derived from rice bran oil, is mainly composed of phytosteryl ferulates, which have been extensively studied for their biological activity, including their ability to act as antioxidants, lower serum cholesterol and for their anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Some research has shown that phytosteryl ferulates could be therapeutic or preventive agents against gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases.

Phytosteryl ferulates also exist in other cereals and plant products. Different processes have been successfully employed to synthesize the ferulates. But these processes often use harsh chemicals and require the isolation of sensitive intermediates. The processes also make it necessary to protect the hydroxyl group in ferulic acid and then eventually remove the group.

In research, Canadian scientists were able to establish the feasibility of a simple two-step enzymatic technique for synthesizing phytosteryl ferulates. First, an intermediate was chemically produced under mild conditions and subsequently esterified with phytosterols through alcoholysis, assisted by a lipase, using a mixed solvent system.

The scientists analyzed the structure of the ferulates using high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry, which involved using atmospheric pressure chemical ionization under both positive and negative ion modes, as well as infrared spectroscopy. The antioxidant activity of the synthesized ferulates was evaluated using different assay systems, including the oxygen radical absorbance capacity assay, the DPPH radical scavenging capacity, the beta-carotene-linoleate model system and other analytical instrumentation.

The synthesized phytosteryl ferulate had higher antioxidant activity than did ferulic acid and intermediate products in most cases. Essentially, the synthesized phytosteryl ferulates with their improved antioxidant activity may be used as food antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering agents that could possibly serve as a natural health product. Further investigation into the health benefits of synthesized phytosteryl ferulates is in progress.

Further information. Fereidoon Shahidi, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada A1B 3X9; phone: 709-864-8552; fax: 709-864-2422; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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