Mechanism of Urea-Induced Whey Protein Gelation

Youling L. Xiong, John E. Kinsella

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56 Scopus citations


Whey protein isolate (WPI) at an 11.0% concentration spontaneously formed a gel at 25 °C in 6 M urea. As the pH was increased from 7 to 10, gel formation, from a viscous sol to an elastic network, was accelerated. Addition of N-ethylmaleimide up to 6 mM inhibited gelation. The sulfhydryl (SH) content of WPI decreased during urea incubation, especially with increasing pH. Electrophoretic analyses revealed the progressive disappearance of α-lactalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, and serum albumin during the gelation process with concomitant formation of polymers of these proteins. The spontaneous formation of gels in 6 M urea resulted from protein-protein cross-linkages via oxidation of thiol groups and SH-disulfide interchange reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1887-1891
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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