Effects of emulsifier charge and concentration on pancreatic lipolysis. 1. in the absence of bile salts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Zahari Vinarov
  • Yana Petkova
  • Slavka Tcholakova
  • Nikolai Denkov
  • Simeon Stoyanov
  • Alex Lips

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Sofia University
  • Unilever Research and Development
  • Unilever


An in vitro study is performed with sunflower oil-in-water emulsions to clarify the effects of type of used emulsifier, its concentration, and reaction time on the degree of oil lipolysis, α. Anionic, nonionic, and cationic surfactants are studied as emulsifiers. For all systems, three regions are observed when surfactant concentration is scaled with the critical micelle concentration, C S/cmc: (1) At C S < cmc, α ≈ 0.5 after 30 min and increases up to 0.9 after 4 h. (2) At C S ≈ 3 × cmc, α ≈ 0.15 after 30 min and increases steeply up to 0.9 after 2 h for the cationic and nonionic surfactants, whereas it remains around 0.2 for the anionic surfactants. (3) At C S above certain threshold value, α = 0 for all studied surfactants, for reaction time up to 8 h. Additional experiments show that the lipase hydrolyzes molecularly soluble substrate (tributirin) at C S ≫ cmc, which is a proof that these surfactants do not denature or block the enzyme active center. Thus, we conclude that the mechanism of enzyme inhibition by these surfactants is the formation of a dense adsorption layer on an oil drop surface, which displaces the lipase from direct contact with the triglycerides.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8127-8139
Number of pages13
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2012