Differential in vitro digestion rates in gastric phase of bovine milk with different κ-casein phenotypes

Bulei Sheng*, Søren Drud-Heydary Nielsen, Nina Aagaard Poulsen, Lotte Bach Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Casein (CN) micelles will coagulate in the stomach after ingestion, which is similar to the cheesemaking process. Although genetic variants of bovine proteins, especially κ-CN, have been confirmed to influence the coagulation properties of the CN micelle, its influence on milk digestibility has not been revealed yet. This study aimed to investigate how genetic variants, glycosylation degree of κ-CN, and CN micelle size influence digestion rates during in vitro gastrointestinal digestion. Three milk pools, representing κ-CN phenotypes of either AA, BB, or AB composition were prepared from milk of individual Danish Holstein cows representing these different genotypes. In vitro digestion of the 3 milk pools, AA, BB, or AB, was investigated by sodium dodecyl sulfate–PAGE, liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, and degree of hydrolysis. The results showed that κ-CN AA milk had faster digestion rate in the gastric phase compared with BB and AB milks, whereas only small differences were apparent in the intestinal digestion phase. The results further documented that the milk pools representing κ-CN phenotypes BB and AB had comparable overall glycosylation degrees (50.9% and 50.0%, respectively) and higher than that of the AA milk pool (46.9%). Further, the AA milk pool was associated with larger CN micelles. These differences in CN micelle sizes and glycosylation degrees can be part of underlying explanations for the differential in vitro digestion rates observed between the AA, BB, and AB κ-CN milk pools.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)10462-10472
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • digestion rate
  • genetic variant
  • glycosylation
  • phenotype
  • κ-casein


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