Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Food Science

First Advisor

Eric A. Decker

Second Advisor

D. Julian McClements

Third Advisor

Matthew A. Holden

Subject Categories

Food Science


The combination of water and surface active compounds found naturally in commercially refined vegetable oils have been postulated to form physical structures known as association colloids. This research studied the ability of 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphocholine (DOPC) and water to form physical structures in stripped soybean oil. Interfacial tension and fluorescence spectrometry results showed the critical micelle concentration (CMC) of DOPC in stripped soybean oil was 650 and 950 microM, respectively. Light scattering attenuation results indicated that the structure formed by DOPC was reverse micelles. The physical properties of DOPC reverse micelles were determined using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and fluorescence probes. These studies showed that increasing the water concentration altered the size and shape of the reverse micelles formed by DOPC.

The impact of DOPC reverse micelles on the lipid oxidation of stripped soybean oil was investigated by following the formation of primary and secondary lipid oxidation products. DOPC reverse micelles had a prooxidant effect, shortening the oxidation lag phase of SSO at 55 °C. It also was not able to change the lipid oxidation of stripped soybean oil compared with DOPC reverse micelles at same concemtration ( i.e., 950 microM). 1,2-dibutyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphocholine (DC4PC) which has the shorter fatty acid than DOPC was not able to form association colloids and did not impact lipid oxidation rates. This indicated that the choline group of the phospholipid was not responsible for the increased oxidation rates and suggested that the physical structure formed by DOPC was responsible for the prooxidant effect.

The impact of the DOPC reverse micelles on the effectiveness and physical location of the antioxidants, alpha-tocopherol and Trolox was also studied. Both non-polar (alpha-tocopherol) and polar (Trolox) were able to inhibit lipid oxidation in stripped soybean oil in the presence of DOPC reverse micelles. Trolox was a more effective antioxidant than alpha-tocopherol. Fluorescence steady state and lifetime decay studies suggested that both alpha-tocopherol and Trolox were associated with DOPC reverse micelle in bulk oil. Trolox primarily concentrated in the water pool of reverse micelle since it quenched NBD-PE fluorescence intensity with increasing concentrations. A portion of alpha-tocopherol was also associated with the aqueous phase of the DOPC reverse micelles but this was likely at the oil-water interface since alpha-tocopherol is not water soluble.

The addition of ferric chelator, deferoxamine (DFO) to stripped soybean oil significantly prevented the lipid oxidation caused by DOPC reverse micelles as the lag phase was extended from 2 to 7 days. DFO was also found to increase the antioxidant activity of both Trolox and alpha-tocopherol. Trolox and alpha-tocopherol were found to be rapidly decomposed by high-valence Fe(III) while low-valence-state (Fe (II) was much less reactive. Fe(III) was also consumed by both hydrophilic Trolox and lipophilic alpha-tocopherol presumably though reduction to Fe (II). DOPC reverse micelles were able to decrease antioxidants-iron interactions as evidence by a decrease in antioxidant depletion by iron and a decrease in iron reduction by the antioxidants. These results suggested that the ability of DFO to increase the antioxidant activity of alpha-tocopherol and Trolox was due to its ability to decrease free radical production and not its ability to decrease direct iron-antioxidant interactions.

Overall, the results presented in this dissertation show phospholipids and water can form reverse micelles in edible oils. These reverse micelles increase lipid oxidation rates by increasing the prooxidant activity of iron. Free radical scavenging antioxidants can inhibit oxidation promoted by the reverse micelles with polar Trolox being more effective than non-polar alpha-tocopherol presumably because Trolox is more highly associated with the reverse micelle. The reverse micelles produced by DOPC protected alpha-tocopherol and Trolox from direct degradation by iron. The knowledge gained from this study will improve our understanding of the mechanism of lipid oxidation in bulk oils which will hopefully provide new technologies to improve the oxidation stability of edible oils. For example, it may be able to use oil refining technologies to remove prooxidative minor components that for physical structure in bulk oils.

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