Phosphopeptides of casein: Mineral carriers and potential nutraceuticals

Amelia Fiorilli, Silvia Perego, Anita Ferraretto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The gastrointestinal digestion of casein gives rise to a series of peptides displaying particular features and biological activity, such as the immunostimulant, ACE inhibitory, antihypertensive, opioid agonist/antagonist, antithrombotic and antimicrobial peptides. A last group of peptides, named casein phosphopeptides, are defined mineral carriers and originate from the proteolytic cleavage of αs1-, αs1-, αs2- and β-caseins, all CPPs present the "acidic motif", which was highly conserved among species and centuries. The presence of phosphate confer them a high negative charge responsible for their further proteolysis and undiscussed ability to bind minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc. Numerous studies aimed to demonstrate the possibility to use the CPP mineral binding capacity for improving the absorption of calcium and iron at intestinal level, as well as for enhancing remineralization of tooth enamel. Besides the controversial results obtained with calcium transport studies performed using rat intestinal preparations, the use of in vitro human intestinal cell models do confirm that CPPs induce calcium uptake in differentiated intestinal cells and this action is correlated to their ability to form aggregates of defined size with calcium ions. Also in human primary osteoblast like cells CPPs increase the intracellular calcium concentration and the in vitro cell mineralization. In all these events the calcium bound to CPPs represents the fraction of soluble mineral involved in the process. Finally, new and interesting potentialities for CPPs come from recent data displaying a modulation of the intestinal immune system by triggering cytokine secretion and stimulating IgA production, the release of IL-6 cytokine in human epithelial intestinal cell lines, the modulation of cell viability, i.e. proliferation and apoptosis in different human cell cultures. Taken together these findings claimed for a real possibility to use CPPs as functional food, due to their presence in dairy products and their physiological formation in vivo, and for nutraceuticals, due to possibility to add to mouth rinse solutions, toothpaste and chewing gum, but also to confectionary products (breakfast foods, sweets, cakes, ice-cream, milk, powdered milk, yogurt, cheese, sport drinks, mayonnaise..) due to their good solubility in water, which will allow to use these peptides as an easy-to-formulate ingredient in food.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCasein: Production, Uses and Health Effects
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781621001294
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Phosphopeptides of casein: Mineral carriers and potential nutraceuticals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this