Hydrophilization of bixin by lipase-catalyzed transesterification with sorbitol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Bixin is one of the most used yellow-orange food colorants in the food industry. The polyene chain of bixin makes it highly hydrophobic and less suitable for water-based food formulations. Lipase-catalyzed reactions of bixin with sorbitol were studied to synthesize a new derivative of bixin with potential hydrophilic properties. Interestingly, we show that the lipase-catalyzed reaction of bixin leads to a transesterification reaction and formation of a transesterified product, sorbitol ester of norbixin (SEN). The reaction efficiency was optimized with various immobilized lipases at different water activity levels in the organic solvent, 2-methyl-2-butanol. Among the examined lipases, immobilized Candida antarctica lipase B (Novozyme 435) provided the highest reaction yield at a water activity close to zero. Tetrahydrofuran (THF) was used as co-solvent to improve bixin solubility. The optimization of the reaction conditions with 20% THF lead to a total reaction yield of 50% of SEN.


External organisations
  • Aarhus University
  • Chr. Hansen Holding A/S
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Food Science
  • Food Engineering


  • Bixin, Candida antarctica lipase B, Lipase immobilization, Lipase-catalysis, Transesterification, Water activity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-209
Number of pages7
JournalFood Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch