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Section: New Results

The impact of tracers on lipid digestion kinetics

[Participant: Carole Knibbe]

Dietary fats are present in the diet under different types of structures, such as spread vs emulsions (notably in processed foods and enteral formula), and interest is growing regarding their digestion and intestinal absorption. In clinical trials, there is often a need to add stable isotope-labeled triacylglycerols (TAGs) as tracers to the ingested fat in order to track its intestinal absorption and further metabolic fate. Because most TAG tracers contain saturated fatty acids, they may modify the physicochemical properties of the ingested labeled fat and thereby its digestion. However, the actual impact of tracer addition on fat crystalline properties and lipolysis by digestive lipases still deserves to be explored. In this context, we monitored the thermal and polymorphic behavior of anhydrous milk fat (AMF) enriched in homogeneous TAGs tracers and further compared it with the native AMF using differential scanning calorimetry and power X-ray diffraction. As tracers, we used a mixture of tripalmitin, triolein and tricaprylin at 2 different concentrations (1.5 and 5.7 wt%, which have been used in clinical trials). The addition of TAG tracers modified the AMF melting profile, especially at the highest tested concentration (5.7 wt%). Both AMF and AMF enriched with 1.5 wt% tracers were completely melted around 37 °C, i.e. close to the body temperature, while the AMF enriched with 5.7 wt% tracers remained partially crystallized at this temperature. Similar trends were observed in both bulk and emulsified systems. Moreover, the kinetics of AMF polymorphic transformation was modified in the presence of tracers. While only β’ form was observed in the native AMF, the β-form was clearly detected in the AMF containing 5.7 wt% tracers. We further tested the impact of tracers on the lipolysis of AMF in bulk using a static in vitro model of duodenal digestion. Lipolysis of AMF enriched with 5.7 wt% tracers was delayed compared with that of AMF and AMF enriched with 1.5 wt% tracers. Therefore, low amounts of TAG tracers including tripalmitin do not have a high impact on fat digestion, but one has to be cautious when using higher amounts of these tracers.