Yeast cells can be used as biocompatible and biodegradable containers for the microencapsulation of a variety of actives. Despite the wide application of this process, e.g. in the food industry, mechanism and controlling factors are yet poorly known. In this study we have studied kinetics and mechanistic aspects of the spontaneous internalization of terpenes (as model hydrophobic compounds) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, quantifying their encapsulation through HPLC analysis and fluorescent staining of lipidic bodies with Nile Red, while in parallel monitoring cell viability. Our results showed that this encapsulation process is essentially a phenomenon of passive diffusion with negligible relevance of active transport. Further, our evidence shows that the major determinant of the encapsulation kinetics is the solubility of the hydrophobe in the cell wall, which is inversely related to partition coefficient (log P).
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