Binding of the pepper alkaloid piperine to bovine β-lactoglobulin: Circular dichroism spectroscopy and molecular modeling study

Ferenc Zsila, Eszter Hazai, Lindsay Sawyer

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27 Citations (Scopus)


The pepper alkaloid piperine is a nontoxic, natural dietary compound with a broad range of physiological activity. The present work is the first demonstration of its interaction with a mammalian protein. Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy was used to reveal and analyze the binding of piperine to a lipocalin protein. Induced CD spectra measured in pH 7.7 phosphate buffer at 37°C demonstrated reversible, non-covalent association of piperine with bovine β-lactoglobulin (BLG), the major whey protein in milk. The binding parameters (Ka ≈ 8 × 104 M-1, n = 0.8) determined from the CD titration data showed no significant differences between the piperine binding properties of the two main genetic variants of BLG (A and B). The vanishing extrinsic CD signal obtained upon acidification of the piperine-BLG sample solution (Tanford transition) suggested that the ligand binds in the central hydrophobic cavity of the β-barrel. The cavity binding concept was further supported by a CD displacement experiment using palmitic acid, the well-known hydrophobic ligand of BLG. Molecular docking calculations showed that piperine can be efficiently accommodated within the calyx of BLG. Additional molecular modeling calculations indicated that the β-barrel of human tear lipocalin, human serum retinol binding protein, and human neutrophil gelatinase associated lipocalin might also accommodate a piperine molecule.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10179-10185
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - Dec 28 2005



  • Bovine β-lactoglobulin
  • Circular dichroism spectroscopy
  • Induced chirality
  • Lipocalin
  • Piperine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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