The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of interfacial composition and electrical charge on the in vitro digestion of emulsified fats by pancreatic lipase. An electrostatic layer-by-layer deposition technique was used to prepare corn oil-in-water emulsions (3 wt% oil) that contained droplets coated by (1) lecithin, (2) lecithin–chitosan, or (3) lecithin–chitosan–pectin. Pancreatic lipase (1.6 mg mL−1) and/or bile extract (5.0 mg mL−1) were added to each emulsion, and the particle charge, droplet aggregation, and free fatty acids released were measured. In the presence of bile extract, the amount of fatty acids released per unit amount of emulsion was much lower in the emulsions containing droplets coated by lecithin–chitosan (38 ± 16 μmol mL−1) than those containing droplets coated by lecithin (250 ± 70 μmol mL−1) or lecithin–chitosan–pectin (274 ± 80 μmol mL−1). In addition, there was much more extensive droplet aggregation in the lecithin–chitosan emulsion than in the other two emulsions. We postulated that lipase activity was reduced in the lecithin–chitosan emulsion as a result of the formation of a relatively thick cationic layer around each droplet, as well as the formation of large flocs, which restricted the access of the pancreatic lipase to the lipids within the droplets. Our results also suggest that droplets initially coated by a lecithin–chitosan–pectin layer did not inhibit lipase activity, which may have been because the chitosan–pectin desorbed from the droplet surfaces thereby allowing the enzyme to reach the lipids; however, further work is needed to establish this. This information could be used to create food emulsions with low caloric level, or to optimize diets for individuals with lipid digestion problems.
EmulsionsInterfacial propertiesPancreatic lipaseBile extractChitosanActivity of lipase