, Volume 25, Issue 9, pp 5157–5173 | Cite as

Use of sulfated cellulose nanocrystals towards stability enhancement of gelatin-encapsulated tea polyphenols

  • Bo SunEmail author
  • Min Zhang
  • Yonghao Ni
Original Paper


There has been considerable interest in the improvement of the stability of tea polyphenols (TPP), which are susceptible to oxidation, even after encapsulation. The results of current study showed that the addition of sulfated cellulose nanocrystals (SCNC) resulted in improved colloidal stability of gelatin-encapsulated tea polyphenols (G-TPP), leading to enhanced free radical scavenging capacity. The Box–Behnken design–response surface methodology was adopted to determine the impact of key process variables on the dispersion and size of SCNC-G-TPP (sulfated cellulose nanocrystals stabilized G-TPP). Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) was used as a comparison and the improvement of the colloidal stability as a result of the addition of SCNC and CMC was supported by micro-rheology results and Turbiscan stability index. The HPLC/DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) radical scavenging activity results showed that the anti-oxidative capacity was dependent upon storage time and temperature. SCNC is superior to CMC in improving the anti-oxidative capacity. TEM results revealed that G-TPP microcapsules were well shielded by SCNC, which would be responsible for the enhanced colloidal stability and anti-oxidation capacity.

Graphical abstract

Schematic of the fabrication of tea polyphenols (TPP), gelatin-encapsulated tea polyphenols (G-TPP) and sulfated cellulose nanocrystals stabilized G-TPP (SCNC-G-TPP), and possible mechanisms relevant to colloidal stability. (A) Confocal Laser Microscope (CLSM) image at 70 nm by argon laser, showing the typical core–shell structure of G-TPP; (B) Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) image of SCNC-G-TPP, showing the formation of SCNC-stabilized TPP capsules (measuring bar of 0.5 μm); (C) TEM image of enlarged structures of SCNC-stabilized TPP gelatin capsule, showing that it was stable and intact (measuring bar of 100 nm); (D) TEM image of G-TPP (after storage for 6 days), showing the capsule aggregates (measuring bar of 0.5 μm); (E) TEM image of SCNC-G-TPP (after storage for 6 days), showing the stable SCNC-stabilized TPP capsules (measuring bar of 0.5 μm) (TPP concentration of 0.05 g/100 mL for all samples; initial pH of 4 for all test tubes; end pH of 3.9 for tube #1, 3.9 for tube #2 and 3.8 for tube #3, respectively). The SCNC-G-TPP had a very light color (negligible color change), and the particles were well dispersed and quite stable after 6 days of storage, indicating better stability compared with TPP and G-TPP. The presence of SCNC may increase the physical strength of gelatin-based capsules, so that the occurrence of capsules’ breakage is discouraged, thus increasing the TPP stability. The improved dispersion of the capsules upon the addition of SCNC might be another reason for the enhanced stability.


Sulfated cellulose nanocrystals Tea polyphenols Colloidal stability Anti-oxidation capacity Encapsulation Micro-rheology 



This work was financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31501440), Tianjin Science and Technology Commissioner Program (16JCTPJC45300), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2015M571268), Tianjin International Training Program for Excellent Postdoctoral Fellows of 2015, Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201303071-06), and the Canada Research Chairs program of the Government of Canada.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Food Nutrition and SafetyMinistry of Education, Tianjin University of Science and TechnologyTianjinChina
  2. 2.Center for Biocomposites and Biomaterials ProcessingUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada
  4. 4.Tianjin Key Laboratory of Pulp and PaperTianjin University of Science and TechnologyTianjinChina

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