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Food Chemistry and Nutraceutics  

The research team is composed by Professor Anna Arnoldi (associate professor, SSD CHIM10 - Food chemistry), and Drs. Giovanna Boschin (technician D2), Carmen Lammi (postdoc), and Chiara Zanoni (postdoc).

In the past, the main topics of this group were the synthesis of new crop protection products, the mechanisms of degradation of agrochemicals, the synthesis and structure activity relationship of new sweeteners, and the study of the chemical transformations of food induced by heat treatments. Without abandoning these topics, in the last 15 years the group has distinguished itself for the isolation, analysis and characterization of the bioactive components of food (nutraceuticals). The group has considerable experience in mass spectrometry applied to the analysis either of small molecules or proteins. It has recently strengthened its research potential by opening a laboratory of cell biology to investigate at the molecular level the mechanism of action of the fractions isolated and characterized. It investigates mainly legumes, since experimental and clinical investigations have shown that the regular consumption of these foods is able to prevent hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and hyperglycemia. The primary purpose is to identify, purify and characterize the compounds responsible for the observed biological activities in order to use them as ingredients in innovative food supplements.

In particular, the team has developed a wide range of complementary expertise in the following areas.

STUDIES ON SOY FOODS

In the area of soy foods, the research is focused on the following topics: A) identification of the soy components responsible for the cholesterol-lowering activity; B) analysis in two-dimensional electrophoresis and mass spectrometry of soya protein isolates from different origins; C) development of methods for the determination of isoflavones in the blood of animals or individuals subjected to a soy protein regimen of (including people who have undergone kidney transplantation); D) quantification of isoflavones in baby food and gluten-free foods.

 

STUDIES ON LUPIN FOODS

In the area of lupin foods, the research topics are the following: A) The analysis of quinolizidine alkaloids in the seeds of different species and cultivars, also according to climatic and agronomic conditions, and in food products. B) The analysis of isoflavones in the seeds and green plants. C) The analysis of lipids according to the variety and methods of cultivation. D) The analysis of tocopherols in different species and cultivars. E) Proteomic analysis of the species L. albus and L. angustifolius by two-dimensional electrophoresis. F) The development of methods for the analysis of proteins in the seeds and in foods by shot-gun proteomics. G) The quantification of specific protein fractions through label-free methods in mass spectrometry. H) The genetic fingerprinting of different species through RAPD-PCR methods (in collaboration with prof. Arlorio Marco, University of Eastern Piedmont). I) The study of the effects of heat treatments on the nutritional quality of lupin foods. L) Investigations cholesterol-lowering activity in rats and humans (in collaboration with prof. Cesare Sirtori, University of Milan). M) Investigations on anti-atherosclerosis in rabbit (in collaboration with Prof. Giulia Church, University of Milan). N) Characterization of allergenic proteins in vitro using human serum (in collaboration with prof. Harry J. Wichers, Wageningen University, The Netherland).

 

Main projects from 2008

International Projects

Scientific Coordinator of the European project BIOPROFIBRE, "Development of cholesterol lowering foods through bioactive proteins and fibers," contract PF6-SME-CT-2006-032075, the period 01/07/2006-31/03/2008.

Coordinator of the European project LUPICARP, "Innovative functional foods from sweet lupine for cardiovascular prevention"; contract FP7-SME-2011-GA-285819, period 01/10/2011-30/09/2013.

National Projects

Project funded by Cariplo Foundation: "Innovative methodologies for quality control of the production chain of lupine and foods produced from it"; period 01/05/2006-30/04/2008

Responsible for a research unit of the project PRIN 2006 (protocol 2006075417) "Innovative Methods for the quantification of the major allergens in complex foods"; period 02/09/2007-08/02/2009.

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