Christelle Lopez


pHD in physic and chemistry of Lipids, University of Paris, France. About the crystallization properties of milk fat in emulsion.

The pHD was funded by the French Dairy Industry.

Senior research scientist specialist of milk lipids: composition, biophysical properties, microstructure.

Coordinated several scientific and technological projects in collaboration with academic partners and the French dairy industry.

For the last 6 years, has focused her research activities on the milk fat globule membrane and on the specific functions and opportunities provided by milk polar lipids.



Milk polar lipids and membrane: opportunities for functional and nutritional products

Christelle LOPEZ, INRA Rennes, FRANCE

Milk fat globules are enveloped by a biological membrane rich in milk polar lipids (MPL), cholesterol and membrane-specific proteins. Their main functions are to supply dietary energy and bioactive molecules in the gastro-intestinal of newborns. Milk fat globules are also consumed by human infants and adults in various dairy products, despite they can be altered by dairy processes. MPL have a specific composition as compared to polar lipids from other dietary sources (e.g. soya lecithin). They are a unique source of glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids, mainly sphingomyelin (SM). Milk-SM contains long-chain saturated fatty acids and has the specificity to change its physical state as a function of temperature. Milk-SM has also been reported to have specific interactions with cholesterol and to form lipid domains, as revealed in the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM). The chemical composition, biophysical properties and structural organization of MPL have raised attention for the last years to better understand the specific functions provided by the MFGM. Technological processes used in the dairy industry can disrupt milk fat globules and alter the MFGM. Also, processed lipid droplets neo-formed by homogenization, e.g. in infant milk formulas, are not covered by the MFGM. The questions are: In absence of MFGM or MPL, do we lose something important tailored by Nature for mammal newborns growth and health? Is it possible to mimick milk fat globules by tailoring the composition and structure of processed lipid droplets surface? What are the opportunities for adding MFGM components in dairy products? MPL and MFGM fragments can be concentrated from by-products of the dairy industry (e.g. buttermilk, butterserum). MPL-rich and MFGM-rich ingredients can be added in various dairy products for their capacity to stabilize emulsions and for the increased scientific data supporting their nutritional and health interests. They will undoubtedly be further valorized in a near future (e.g. in dairy products and infant milk formulas).

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