Stabilizing vitamin D3 using the molten globule state of α-lactalbumin

Jannik Nedergaard Pedersen, Henrik V Sørensen, Daniel E Otzen

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α-Lactalbumin (α-LA) is the second most abundant bovine whey protein. It has been intensively studied because of its readiness to populate the molten globular (MG) state, a partially folded state with native levels of secondary structure but loss of tertiary structure. The MG state of α-LA exposes a significant number of hydrophobic patches that could be used to bind and stabilize small hydrophobic molecules such as vitamin D3 (vitD). Accordingly, we tested the ability of α-LA to stabilize vitD in a pH interval from 7.4 to 2; over this pH interval, α-LA transitions from the folded state to the MG state. The MG state stabilized vitD better than the folded state and was superior to the major bovine whey protein β-lactoglobulin (β-LG), which is known to stabilize vitD. At pH 7.4, β-LG and α-LA stabilized vitD to the same extent. Tryptophan fluorescence quenching measurements indicated that α-LA has one binding site at pH 7.4 but acquires an additional binding site when the pH is lowered to pH 2 to 4. Stability measurements of the vitD in the α-LA-vitD complex at different temperatures suggest that UHT processing would lead to little loss of vitD. This study demonstrates the potential of α-LA as a component in vitD fortification, particularly for low pH applications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)1817–1826
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Journal Article


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