Food Engineering Reviews

, Volume 6, Issue 1–2, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Design of Bio-nanosystems for Oral Delivery of Functional Compounds

  • Miguel A. Cerqueira
  • Ana C. Pinheiro
  • Hélder D. Silva
  • Philippe E. Ramos
  • Maria A. Azevedo
  • María L. Flores-López
  • Melissa C. Rivera
  • Ana I. Bourbon
  • Óscar L. Ramos
  • António A. VicenteEmail author
Review Article


Nanotechnology has been referred to as one of the most interesting topics in food technology due to the potentialities of its use by food industry. This calls for studying the behavior of nanosystems as carriers of biological and functional compounds aiming at their utilization for delivery, controlled release and protection of such compounds during food processing and oral ingestion. This review highlights the principles of design and production of bio-nanosystems for oral delivery and their behavior within the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract, while providing an insight into the application of reverse engineering approach to the design of those bio-nanosystems. Nanocapsules, nanohydrogels, lipid-based and multilayer nanosystems are discussed (in terms of their main ingredients, production techniques, predominant forces and properties) and some examples of possible food applications are given. Phenomena occurring in in vitro digestion models are presented, mainly using examples related to the utilization of lipid-based nanosystems and their physicochemical behavior throughout the GI tract. Furthermore, it is shown how a reverse engineering approach, through two main steps, can be used to design bio-nanosystems for food applications, and finally a last section is presented to discuss future trends and consumer perception on food nanotechnology.


Nanostructures Bioactive compounds Nanotechnology Food 



Miguel A. Cerqueira, Ana C. Pinheiro, Hélder D. Silva, Philippe E. Ramos, Ana I. Bourbon, Óscar L. Ramos (SFRH/BPD/72753/2010, SFRH/BD/48120/2008, SFRH/BD/81288/2011, SFRH/BD/80800/2011, SFRH/BD/73178/2010 and SFRH/BPD/80766/2011, respectively) are the recipients of a fellowship from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT, POPH-QREN and FSE Portugal). María L. Flores-López thanks Mexican Science and Technology Council (CONACYT, Mexico) for PhD fellowship support (CONACYT Grant number: 215499/310847). The support of EU Cost Actions FA0904 and FA1001 is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel A. Cerqueira
    • 1
  • Ana C. Pinheiro
    • 1
  • Hélder D. Silva
    • 1
  • Philippe E. Ramos
    • 1
  • Maria A. Azevedo
    • 1
  • María L. Flores-López
    • 1
  • Melissa C. Rivera
    • 1
  • Ana I. Bourbon
    • 1
  • Óscar L. Ramos
    • 1
  • António A. Vicente
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (IBB), Centre of Biological EngineeringUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal

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