Background Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) is a biophysical technique widely used to study molecular interactions in biological and non-biological systems. It can provide important information about molecular interactions (such as binding constant, number of binding sites, free energy, enthalpy, and entropy) simply by measuring the heat absorbed or released during an interaction between two liquid solutions. Scope of the review In this review, we present an overview of ITC applications in food science, with particular focus on understanding the fate of lipids within the human gastrointestinal tract. In this area, ITC can be used to study micellization of bile salts, inclusion complex formation, the interaction of surface-active molecules with proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, and the interactions of lipid droplets. Major conclusions ITC is an extremely powerful tool for measuring molecular interactions in food systems, and can provide valuable information about many types of interactions involving food components such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, surfactants, and minerals. For systems at equilibrium, ITC can provide fundamental thermodynamic parameters that can be used to establish the physiochemical origin of molecular interactions. General significance It is expected that ITC will continue to be utilized as a means of providing fundamental information about complex materials such as those found in foods. This knowledge may be used to create functional foods designed to behave in the gastrointestinal tract in a manner that will improve human health and well-being. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Microcalorimetry in the BioSciences - Principles and Applications, edited by Fadi Bou-Abdallah.
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