Structure–function studies of chickpea and durum wheat uncover mechanisms by which cell wall properties influence starch bioaccessibility

Cathrina H. Edwards, Peter Ryden, Giuseppina Mandalari, Peter J. Butterworth, Peter R. Ellis

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Positive health effects of dietary fibre have been established; however, the underpinning mechanisms are not well understood. Plant cell walls are the predominant source of fibre in the diet. They encapsulate intracellular starch and delay digestive enzyme ingress, but food processing can disrupt their structure. Here, we compare the digestion kinetics of chickpea (cotyledon) and durum wheat (endosperm), which have contrasting cell wall structures (type I and II, respectively), to investigate a cell wall barrier mechanism that may underpin the health effects of dietary fibre. Using in vitro models, including the dynamic gastric model, to simulate human digestion, together with microscopy, we show that starch bioaccessibility is limited from intact plant cells and that processing treatments can have different effects on cell integrity and digestion kinetics when applied to tissues with contrasting cell wall properties. This new understanding of dietary fibre structure is important for effective fibre supplementation to benefit human health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118–126
JournalNature Food
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Feb 2021

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