Oxidation: protein-lipid interaction

Berry drinksLipid oxidation is the most important chemical reaction responsible for deterioration of food quality. When progressing, the oxidation reactions may lead to diminished food safety.  In addition to lipids also proteins, fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants in foods undergo oxidation reactions.  Since 1980’s the research group has been  investigating the mechanisms of lipid oxidation and beginning in year  2000 also protein oxidation, protein-lipid interactions, and the action of natural antioxidants including plant phenolics, tocopherols and carotenoids.  Antioxidant activity is studied using model systems that simulate various foods and food structures such as fats/oils, processed meat,  lipid and protein containing emulsions and liposomes. Oxidation of LDL particles has been the model for ex vivo oxidation. To follow the status of oxidation and formation of oxidation products both spectrophotometric (e.g.  CD, PV, TBA, DNPH,  carbonyls) and chromatographic (head space GC, HPLC, LC-MS) methods are in use. The most recent research challenge is the investigation of oxidation of dairy and meat proteins, peptides and amino acids with  development of suitable analytical tools including LC-MS tools familiar from  proteomics research. Our know how has been exploited also in collaboration with the (food) industry when optimising the oxidative stability of various matrices including oils, fats, spreads, chocolate, bakery, meat and dairy products as well as animal feeds and skin care products.


The expertise of the research group also includes isolation (e.g. using prepararative HPLC), analysis and identification (HPLC/UPLC, LC-MS)  of plant phenolics especially in berries, vegetables, cereals and oil plants. These analytical techniques can also be exploited when investigating adulteration of plant based foods.


rape plant




Principal investigator:  professor  Marina Heinonen
Researchers:Velimatti Ollilainen, post doc Marjo Poutanen, PhD students Maija Ahola, Dea Anton, Göker Gürbüz, Tuuli Koivumäki and Petri Kylli,