Lipase and Its Different Applications in the Food and Non-Food Industry

Lipase and Its Different Applications in the Food and Non-Food Industries



For centuries, humans have utilized enzymes in many forms, whether they are extracts or microorganisms derived from plants or animal organs. Scientists such as Louis Pasteur, Anselme Payen, and Jean Francois Persoz were responsible for most of the early interest in the area of enzymology. They were also all involved in the food, wine, and beer sectors.

It was around early 1901 when Christian Eijkman, a Dutch physician and professor, discovered the existence of lipase in bacteria.

From then on, the use of lipase has grown significantly and promisingly during the last 35 years, notably in the food sector. Lipase, after all, has the distinct property of operating at the interface of aqueous and non-aqueous phases. When there is little water activity, it produces esters from glycerol and long-chain fatty acids.

Because of its regio- and enantio-selectivity characteristics, lipase has various and diverse uses in the food and non-food industries, ranging from texturing and flavoring to biodiesel combination and synthesis.

What is Lipase?

Lipase is an enzyme that belongs to the esterase subclass, which converts triglycerides to free fatty acids and glycerol. This enzyme is found in pancreatic secretions and is responsible for fat digestion.

Lipase is also common in nature and can be created by fungi, molds, or bacteria, with the majority of them forming in an extracellular environment. Microbial lipases, in fact, are commercially relevant due to their cheaper manufacturing cost, higher stability, and wider availability than plant and animal lipases.

Lipase comes in a variety of forms, which include:

  1. Hepatic lipases in the liver, which degrades triglycerides in intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL)
  2. Hormone-sensitive lipases in the adipocytes, which is in charge of digesting the triglycerides accumulated in there
  3. Lipoprotein lipase in the vascular endothelial surface, which reduces triglycerides that circulate from chylomicrons
  4. Pancreatic lipase in the small intestine, which is responsible for the breakdown of dietary triglycerides

The role of lipase is also crucial in the mechanism of some medications indicated for lowering cholesterol. This is why understanding how it works is crucial for the pathophysiology of fat necrosis, as well as the acute and chronic pancreatitis.

Furthermore, lipase may hydrolyze water-insoluble esters and has a distinct distribution of hydrophobic amino acids around the active site. It is reactive on a wide range of substrates, and its reaction occurs at the interface of a biphasic system reaction during hydrolysis.

The Brief History of Lipase 

Lipase in pancreatic juice was first discovered by Claude Bernard in 1856. Traditionally, animal pancreatic extracts were use as a source of lipase for commercial purposes. Later on, the industrial potential of lipases was expanded. This provided an opportunity to investigate microbial sources of lipase, as the need for it could not be fulfilled by supplies from animal sources.

The Different Applications of Lipase

Lipase has evolved in significance in a number of sectors due to its stability in organic solvents, wide range of substrates, selectivity, and ability to catalyze reactions without the need of costly cofactors. In addition, lipase is also easily generated and active under modest reaction conditions.

As a result, lipase has proven useful in a wide range of industrial applications, whether in the food or non-food sectors.

Food Industry 

Lipase is commonly utilized in the manufacture of dairy products such as cheese, butter, and margarine. It has also been engaged in the development of novel cooking oils, infant food, and structured lipids with distinct characteristics. This includes cocoa butter substitutes, human milk substitutes, high or low-calorie fats, and oils enhanced with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).

This enzyme is also useful as an emulsifier in the enhancement of baked goods and pasta, as well as an animal feed ingredient. Lipase can also be used to alter tastes and generate aroma compounds.

Detergents and Cleaning Agents

Lipase is used as an additive in detergents and cleaning products. This is due to its ability to remain active and stable at high temperatures and alkaline pH level. It has also been discovered to be necessary in the manufacture of soap, dishwashing products, dry cleaning solvents, and contact lens cleaning.

Fine Chemicals

Lipase is used in the pharmaceutical sector to make fine compounds or pure enantiomers by resolving racemic mixtures or chiral compounds. A few examples of these chiral compounds are prostaglandin, cephalosporin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, hydantoin, and penicillin.

In the agrochemical sector, these chiral compounds are also utilized as herbicides. They can be used to make surfactants and fragrances in the perfume and cosmetic industries. They are also utilized as emollients in personal care products.

Medical Applications

The presence and level of lipase can suggest an infection or illness. As a result, it may be an excellent alternative application for a diagnostic tool. It may also potentially be used as a medication to treat digestive problems and excessive cholesterol levels.

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