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Perez-Palacios, T.;  Ruiz-Carrascal, J.;  Solomando, J.C.;  De-La-Haba, F.;  Pajuelo, A.;  Antequera, T. Microencapsulation of Fish Oil and Natural Extracts. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 16 June 2024).
Perez-Palacios T,  Ruiz-Carrascal J,  Solomando JC,  De-La-Haba F,  Pajuelo A,  Antequera T. Microencapsulation of Fish Oil and Natural Extracts. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 16, 2024.
Perez-Palacios, Trinidad, Jorge Ruiz-Carrascal, Juan Carlos Solomando, Francisco De-La-Haba, Abraham Pajuelo, Teresa Antequera. "Microencapsulation of Fish Oil and Natural Extracts" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 16, 2024).
Perez-Palacios, T.,  Ruiz-Carrascal, J.,  Solomando, J.C.,  De-La-Haba, F.,  Pajuelo, A., & Antequera, T. (2022, November 07). Microencapsulation of Fish Oil and Natural Extracts. In Encyclopedia.
Perez-Palacios, Trinidad, et al. "Microencapsulation of Fish Oil and Natural Extracts." Encyclopedia. Web. 07 November, 2022.
Microencapsulation of Fish Oil and Natural Extracts

Microencapsulation technology arose in the 1950s from the development of dye capsules to be incorporated into paper. Microencapsulation can be defined as a set of technologies aiming to protect sensitive compounds from the external environment and further control their release. For that, the labile compounds, constituting what is known as the core, are entrapped by being surrounded by a shell material (the wall). Microencapsulation has been mainly applied in the pharmaceutical industry, followed in decreasing order by food, cosmetic, textile, biomedical, agricultural and electronic sectors. The recent developments in the microencapsulation of fish oil and natural antioxidant compounds are described. 

fish oil microencapsulation homogenization antioxidant extracts wall materials quality evaluation food enrichment

1. Constituents of Emulsions/Solutions for Microencapsulation

Before microencapsulation, a stable emulsion/solution must be prepared, and its constituents strongly influence the quality of obtained microcapsules. Figure 1 depicts the extent of use of different polymers for microencapsulation of fish oil (Figure 1A) and antioxidants (Figure 1B), with three main different types: saccharides, which were the most frequently used, followed by animal and vegetable proteins. The extent of use of saccharides has been higher for microencapsulated antioxidants in comparison to fish oil microencapsulations (77.8 vs. 52.6%, respectively), while animal proteins have a higher degree of use for fish oil than for antioxidant microencapsulation (34.2% vs. 11.1%), and both types of microcapsules showed a similar extent of use of vegetable proteins (13.16% and 11.11, respectively). Whey protein (isolate (WPI) or concentrate (WPC)) and maltodextrin have been predominantly used in most recent studies on fish oil microcapsules. In the case of antioxidant microcapsules, maltodextrin is the most preferred wall material, but others, as Arabic gum, chitosan, pectin, WPI, inulin and zein, are also remarkable. In addition, distinguishing between plant (including most saccharides and vegetable proteins) and animal-based materials (animal proteins, chitosan, gelatin and collagen), a higher percentage of plant-based materials (in more than 65% of the reviewed papers) in comparison to animal-based ones is noted in both fish oil and antioxidant microencapsulation.
Figure 1. Extent of use of saccharides (blue), vegetable proteins (grey) and animal proteins (orange) as wall material for microencapsulation of fish oil (A) and natural antioxidants (B).
The extensive use of whey protein is related to its excellent surface activity and ability to stabilize oil in water (O/W) emulsions [1]. The most common presentations are WPI, WPC and hydrolysates (WPH). In addition, whey protein coproducts, such as the retentate of the final microfiltration step in the production of WPI (Procream) that mainly comprises dairy lipids and aggregated proteins, have been tested for reutilization and valorization as low-cost emulsifiers in microencapsulation [2]. Maltodextrin has a high solubility in water and can act as a filler matrix to form stable emulsions. Moreover, it has been reported as good protection from oxidation [3]. The use of these polymers is so well established that the current trend is to use them as a control for benchmarking other less-tested materials, alone or in combination, and only a few studies have specifically focused on them. This is the case of some authors [2] who blended Procream with intact or hydrolyzed WPC to improve the microencapsulation efficiency and the oxidative stability of fish oil microcapsules or used WPI conjugated with xylooligosaccharides to encapsulate lycopene, thus enhancing the emulsification performance, the antioxidant capacity, and parameters [4]. Other researchers [5] combined maltodextrin and WPI to microencapsulate fish oil, finding a high oxidative stability of the obtained powders that was attributed to the antioxidant effect of WPI.
Table 1 summarizes the most recent investigations focused on the evaluation of the emulsion constituents for fish oil microencapsulation. Besides the mixtures of whey protein and/or maltodextrin with other wall materials, the evaluation of different polymers of cellulose, inulin, fish protein isolate, chitosan and soy protein isolate has received interest in the most recent studies. García-Moreno et al. [6] showed the potential of different carbohydrates (pullulan and dextran or glucose syrup) and WPC mixtures for the nanoencapsulation of fish oil. In the same way, Charles et al. [7] demonstrated that arrowroot starch, maltodextrin and WPI combinations successfully encapsulated tuna fish oil, and Damerau et al. [8] prepared emulsions of fish oil with WPC and rice proteins as wall materials, obtaining a high stability that was ascribed to the WPC. Jamshidi et al. [9] allowed the stabilization of water in oil in water (W1/O/W2) double emulsions containing fish protein hydrolysate within a complex of WPC and inulin to produce fish oil microencapsulates. Özyurtet al. [10] also tested the use of fish protein isolate in combination with maltodextrin to encapsulate fish oil, finding better quality characteristics in comparison to the sodium caseinate and maltodextrin mixture. Ogrodowska et al. [11] compared different coating materials (maltodextrin, WPC, sunflower and rice proteins and guar gum) for encapsulating fish oil, obtaining the best overall properties when using rice proteins. In addition, the combination of WPC and rice proteins reduced the fishy and rancid odor and flavor of the powder. Chang et al. [12][13] tested the encapsulation of fish oil using different β-lactoglobulin fibril variants from WPI (β-lactoglobulin fibrils and thiol-modified β-lactoglobulin fibrils), chitosan and maltodextrin. These authors demonstrated that combinations of chitosan (a great emulsion stabilizer) and β-lactoglobulin (with high emulsification properties), which are oppositely charged, improve the microencapsulation efficiency. Encina et al. [14] microencapsulated fish oil with hydroxypropylcellulose, due to its solubility in both water and organic solvents, using lecithin as an emulsifier. Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose acetate succinate, which is water-insoluble, was tested by Loughrill er al. [15] to obtain compatible fish oil microcapsules with aqueous-based food products. Encina et al. [16] synthetized hydroxypropyl-inulin by etherification to increase the solubility in water and organic solvents and obtain a novel encapsulating agent for fish oil. Rios-Mera et al. [17] developed fish oil microcapsules with inulin, soy protein isolate and transglutaminase, the enzymatic cross-linking being crucial to improve the retention of fish oil under stress conditions. It is also worth mentioning the use of konjac glucomannan (favorable water solubility and absorption, emulsification and film-forming properties, besides potential health benefits, such as reducing and delaying glucose absorption, inhibiting the synthesis of fatty acids and controlling obesity) [18], alginates (which in addition to enhancing satiety, have the ability to form a gel that preserves the bioaccessibility of the core material, controlling the release of essential fatty acids in specific areas of the gastrointestinal tract) [19], acacia gum (it has emulsifying and film-forming properties and can act as surface-active substance, and once dried, it constitutes a matrix that prevents contact with oxygen) [20], silica (to form a highly organized three-dimensional hybrid matrix nanostructure that enhances bioaccessibility of medium and long chain length triglycerides) [21], carrageenan (a water-holding, gelling, stabilizing, thickening and emulsifying agent) [22] and zein (a prolamine isolated from maize with hydrophobicity, biocompatibility and film-forming properties) [23] as encapsulation materials in recent studies on fish oil microcapsules. Moreover, some recent publications have also been devoted to improving the oxidation stability of fish oil microcapsules by means of including antioxidants together with the wall material or in the core. Thus, Vishnu et al. [24] applied vanillic acid grafted chitosan for the microencapsulation of sardine oil, obtaining promising results. Yeşilsu and Özyurt [25] evaluated the addition of rosemary, thyme and laurel extracts to a previously formed emulsion of anchovy oil with lactose and sodium caseinate, the highest oxidative stability being found in microcapsules with incorporated rosemary and laurel. In the study of Solomando et al. [26], fish oil was mixed with lycopene and microencapsulated by using lecithin and maltodextrin. These authors reported a significant decrease in lipid oxidation markers as the lycopene content increased.
Comparing the obtained results among the different studies might be quite imprecise due to the influence of the encapsulation and analytical procedures. In addition, the quality parameters evaluated are not the same in all reviewed publications. However, in general, the suggested polymers have achieved successful microencapsulation of fish oil with reasonable oxidation stability.
In most recent studies on natural antioxidant microencapsulation (Table 2), the core material is predominantly constituted by an extract from the leaves, seeds or peels of vegetables (green jelly, red chicory, red cabbage, bay, tomato, sea buckthorn, Securigera securidaca, Japanese quince, Moringa stenopetala, Sida rhombifolia), fruits (olive, cocona, camu-camu, cranberry, pomegranate, araza, mulberry, grape, jabuticaba) or plants (green tea) or even from microorganisms (microalgae). The encapsulation of extracts from rice, oat bran and pepper flour, lycopene, curcumin, propolis, resveratrol, thymol and carvacrol has also been recently addressed. As for the wall material, in several works maltodextrin is blended with different polymers, namely hydrolyzed collagen [27], sodium caseinate and dried glucose syrup [28], Arabic gum [29][30], peel pectin powders [31], cashew gum and Tween 40 [32] and inulin [33]. In others, maltodextrin is benchmarked against oligofructose [34], Arabic gum [35] or inulin [33][35]. In addition, the dextrose equivalent (DE) value of maltodextrin (a measurement of its proportion of reducing sugars) has also been investigated (DE 10-13 vs. DE 17-20) [29]. The different maltodextrin blends reached suitable microencapsulation and protection of antioxidant compounds. Moreover, in the comparison studies, maltodextrin was found to be the best polymer for obtaining high-quality microcapsules. Nevertheless, the use of Arabic gum mixed with maltodextrin (1:1 w/w) for encapsulating carotenoids with linseed oil as a carrier resulted in considerable degradation during spray drying and during the gastric phase of simulated digestion [30]. The use of zein has also been tested for antioxidant encapsulation. Zein is a corn-derived insoluble protein, only soluble in an aqueous solution of >60% ethanol, capable of encapsulating hydrophobic compounds with low water solubility [36]. Thus, it has been successfully used for the encapsulation of an aqueous extract of green jelly leaf [36], sea buckthorn leaves [37] and thymol [38]. Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose [36], glycosylated WPI [4], alginates [39], soy protein isolate [40], starch [41] gelatin [37] and sucrose [42] have also been individually investigated as encapsulating materials. In addition, different combinations of these wall materials have been explored to encapsulate antioxidants, i.e., alginate, pectin, WPI and sodium caseinate [39]; soy protein isolate with soy soluble polysaccharides and maltodextrin [40]; poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide), ethylcellulose and polycaprolactone [5]; gelatin–acacia gum [43]; chitosan–carboxymethylcellulose [43]; chitosan, sodium alginate and Arabic gum [44]; carrageenan, lupin protein isolate and chitosan [45]; and WPI and acacia gum [46]. In general, the microencapsulation and protection of the antioxidants have been successfully achieved in these investigations.
Thus, for both fish oil and antioxidant microencapsulation, the current trend seems to be the comparison and/or combination of more-tested wall materials, mainly maltodextrin and whey proteins, with less-tested ones, most of them being from plants.
Table 2. Evaluated effect, related to the solution constituents, the procedure and the food enrichment, in recent studies for the development of natural antioxidant microcapsules.


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