Protease Inhibitors in Plant Foods: Content and Inactivation

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Abstract

To understand the present widespread interest in protease inhibitors (PI), one must look back to the vast amount of research that has been conducted for over 50 years. Intensive investigations, like wave motions on the water, followed a highly cyclical pathway depending upon the interest and support for research in various disciplines. Nutritionists were concerned with the potential adverse effects of the inhibitors of trypsin and chymotrypsin in the intestinal tract of man and animals (Liener and Kakade, 1980; Liener, 1981; Rackis and Gumbmann, 1981); biochemists recognized that the peculiar properties of PI’s may yield fundamental information concerning protein-protein interactions especially the mechanism of proteolytic hydrolysis (Richardson, 1981; Ryan, 1979); medical scientists envisioned an important role for PI’s in the treatment of various metabolic disorders (Katunuma et al., 1983; Vogel et al., 1968; Weyer, 1968), and biologists foresaw an important physiological role of PI’s to regulate plant growth, protein synthesis and resistance to microbial and insect pests (Richardson, 1977, 1981; Ryan, 1973, 1979).