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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Small Grain and Food Crops Quality Research » Research » Research Project #445000

Research Project: PCHI: Impact of Structural Modification Techniques on Pea (Pisum sativum L.) Protein’s Ability to Modulate Human Gut Microbiota

Location: Small Grain and Food Crops Quality Research

Project Number: 3060-21650-002-049-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2024

The goal of this project is to evaluate how various protein structural modification techniques influence the gut health benefits of pea protein while improving protein functionalities. To achieve this goal, two supporting objectives will be pursued. (1) Identify changes in functionalities and unabsorbed digesta of pea protein as affected by three structural modification techniques; and (2) Determine the impact of three structural modifications on pea protein’s potential to modulate gut microbiome-metabolome profiles and the markers of intestinal and metabolic health.

To achieve the objectives, unmodified pea protein isolate will be extracted by the alkaline extraction-isoelectric precipitation method, and the structure of pea protein isolates will be modified by ultrasonication, high pressure homogenization or glycation with pullulan or pea resistant starch. The improved protein functional properties due to structural changes will be verified by determining protein solubility, emulsifying capacity and stability, and foaming capacity and stability. The impact of structural changes on protein digestion will be examined by measuring protein digestibility and characterizing the unabsorbed digesta based on amino acid composition and protein subunit composition. The impact of structurally modified pea protein as compared to the unmodified protein will be examined on the gut microbiome-metabolome profiles using both in-vitro (human microflora fermentation) and in-vivo (C57BL/6J mouse) models. Further, how unmodified vs structurally modified pea protein differentially influence the markers of intestinal and metabolic health will be examined using an in-vivo model by determining the gut epithelial permeability, plasma lipid profiles, glucose/insulin tolerance, immune/inflammatory markers (IL-1b, IL-6, IL-10, TNF-alpha, interferon-gamma), and leaky gut markers (zonulin, occludin, and claudin) of the host.