Compounds from pomegranate called punicalagins were found to self-assemble into nanoparticles with gelatin, and the loading efficiency of the particles was said to be above 84 percent, according to findings published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
Liwei Gu, PhD, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Florida and corresponding author for the study, told NutraIngredients-USA.com that he considers the process of producing the nanoparticles to be commercially viable. “We are in the process of scaling this up,” he said, but no industrial partner is as yet on board.
Pomegranate, a rich source of antioxidants, has been linked to improved heart health, but a growing body of science indicates the fruit protect against prostate cancer. Studies have also reported a role in joint health by slowing cartilage loss in arthritis.
It is these antioxidants, and particularly ellagitannin compounds like punicalagins and punicalins, which accounts for about half of the fruit's antioxidant ability, that are reportedly behind the proposed health benefits.
The University of Florida scientists looked at the production of nanoparticles with partially purified pomegranate ellagitannins, and found that only punicalagin forms could bind with the gelatin to form particles. On the other hand, compounds like ellagic acid-hexoside and ellagic acid could not self-assemble into the nanoparticles.
According to the new data, the loading efficiency of punicalagin A and punicalagin B in the particles was 94 percent and 84 percent, respectively, while the loading capacity of the particles for these compounds was 15 and 26 percent, respectively, added the researchers.
Having produced the nanoparticles, Dr Gu and his co-workers tested them against a line of leukemia cells. This part of the investigation found that the pomegranate-gelatin nanoparticles were less effective at inducing programmed cell death of the cancer cells than free pomegranate punicalagins when delivered as a solution.
“We speculated that cell uptakes of nanoparticles may be a major reason for the observed differences in apoptotic effects,” wrote the researchers. “Our data suggested that PPE-gelatin nanoparticles have lower toxicity than pomegranate ellagitannins,” they added.
Dr Gu confirmed that his team is current doing in vitro testing now on the absorption of the nanoparticles and that they will “move onto in vivo testing after this”.
Source: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201000528
“Fabrication of nanoparticles using partially purified pomegranate ellagitannins and gelatin and their apoptotic effects”
Authors: Z. Li, S.S. Percival, S. Bonard, L. Gu