BACKGROUD: Many hydrolysates from animal and plant proteins have been found to possess physiological activities. Wheat gluten, an important by-product of the wheat starch industry, is produced worldwide in enormous quantities. In this study, wheat gluten hydrolysates (WGHs) were obtained by enzymatic hydrolysis and fractionated using ultrafiltration membranes. The antioxidant activities of the hydrolysates were investigated by various antioxidant assays, including the ability to inhibit the autoxidation of linoleic acid and the scavenging effect on free radicals. Amino acid composition and molecular weight distribution were also evaluated to determine their relationship with antioxidant activity.
RESULTS: The pepsin hydrolysate (PeWGH) had the highest activity and was ultrafiltrated into three major types, PeWGH I (5–10 kDa), PeWGH II (3–5 kDa) and PeWGH III (<3 kDa). PeWGH III showed stronger inhibition of the autoxidation of linoleic acid and higher scavenging activity against 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl, superoxide and hydroxyl free radicals. Furthermore, PeWGH III had the highest total hydrophobic amino acid content (45.11 g per 100 g protein), and its molecular weight distribution ranged from 1700 to 100 Da.
CONCLUSION: The low molecular weight and amino acid composition of PeWGHs were found to be strongly correlated with their antioxidant activity. PeWGH could be used as a natural antioxidant in the pharmaceutical and food industries in the future. Copyright © 2008 Society of Chemical Industry