The FAU-Food Chemistry work group is highly interested in the bioactivity and functionality of food components. Our studies are based on sophisticated analytical and bioanalytical methods, allowing for the unequivocal characterization of the molecular structure of active compounds. The bioactivity of the food components is studied in cell-based assays as well as in human intervention studies, which are carried out in cooperation with the university hospitals in Erlangen.

System-guided food chemistry: targeted and non-targeted proteome/peptidome analysis, targeted metabolome analysis

Interaction between food and brain function (Neurotrition)

Non-enzymatic posttranslational modifications of proteins and peptides

Immunomodulating and antimicrobial food components

Evaluation of functionally selective GPCR-ligands by targeted proteome analysis

Development of bioanalytical and mass spectrometric methods in food and bio analysis

System-guided food chemistry: targeted and non-targeted proteome/peptidome analysis, targeted metabolome analysis

In order to understand the bioactivity of food comprehensively, it is necessary to describe the food components, as well as the reactions of an organisms to a food component as complete as possible. Analysis of the proteome, peptidome and metabolome are required for these purposes. In our group, different multidimensional mass spectrometric methods are applied to determine protein expression patterns as a reaction to cell stimulation. For this purpose, protein arrays are defined and their cellular expression is quantified e. g. by SILAC UHPLC/MS/MS MRM.
Combination of different high resolution mass spectrometric methods allow peptidome analysis, which was applied, for example, to identify the profile of bioactive peptides in milk and milk products.

Non-enzymatic posttranslational modifications of proteins and peptides

During food processing, proteins and peptides undergo fundamental chemical modifications, which considerably influence their physiological and toxicological properties. The most prevalent non-enzymatic posttranslational modifications are oxidation, glycation (AGEs), and Maillard reactions. Similar processes also take place in the human organism, having a major impact on the development of diseases related to diabetes, kidney failure, and ageing. Using mass spectrometry, the FAU-Food Chemistry workgroup can systematically monitor these non-enzymatic posttranslational modifications and quantify them time-dependent and specific for each product and binding site. In a pilot intervention study, we investigated the relationship between the intake of AGEs by industrially produced infant formulas and their endogenous formation in infants.

Immunomodulating activity of roasting products

Carbohydrates are reactive food components, which lead during food processing to non enzymatic protein modifications as well as many other reactions. In highly processed food, carbohydrates reaction with low molecular compounds, such as amino acids or polyphenols to give bioactive degradation products. In this context, important compounds are amino reductones or oligomeric melanoidins. It has been shown that roasting products from coffee have the potential to activate macrophages by nuclear translocation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Macrophages are important components of the intestinal immune system, which mediate immune reactions in a healthy organism. In patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (e.g. Morbus Crohn) however, overstimulation of macrophages contributes to the pathogenesis. Thus, the bioactive molecules which are responsible for the immunomodulating activity of coffee could be identified. Furthermore, antimicrobial compounds could be identified in coffee. These coffee-derived antimicrobials were e.g. incorporated in foils yielding functional packaging materials.

Development of bioanalytical and mass spectrometic methods in food and bio analysis

The FAU-Food Chemistry work group is also thoroughly interested in the development of highly sensitive and selective bioanalytical and mass spectrometry methods and their application to food and bio analysis. For example, assays were developed for the quantification of the antibiotic preservative nisin or the preservative and food allergen lysozyme in food.