Validation of an in vitro digestive system for studying macronutrient decomposition in humans
The digestive process transforms nutrients and bioactive compounds contained in food to physiologically active compounds. In vitro digestion systems have proven to be powerful tools for understanding and monitoring the complex transformation processes that take place during digestion. Moreover, the investigation of the physiological effects of certain nutrients demands an in vitro digestive process that is close to human physiology. In this study, human digestion was simulated with a 3-step in vitro process that was validated in depth by choosing pasteurized milk as an example of a complex food matrix. The evolution and decomposition of the macronutrients was followed over the entire digestive process to the level of intestinal enterocyte action, using protein and peptide analysis by SDS-PAGE, reversed-phase HPLC, size exclusion HPLC, and liquid chromatography-MS. The mean peptide size after in vitro digestion of pasteurized milk was 5-6 amino acids (AA). Interestingly, mostly essential AA (93.6%) were released during in vitro milk digestion, a significantly different relative distribution compared to the total essential AA concentration of bovine milk (44.5%). All TG were degraded to FFA and monoacylglycerols. Herein, we present a human in vitro digestion model validated for its ability to degrade the macronutrients of dairy products comparable to physiological ranges. It is suited to be used in combination with a human intestinal cell culture system, allowing ex vivo bioavailability measurements and assessment of the bioactive properties of food components.