Casein-graft-dextran copolymer was produced using the Maillard reaction. The copolymer is molecularly soluble in neutral aqueous solution whereas ??-carotene is extremely insoluble. By the method of dialysis or evaporation then dispersing in water, the solubility of hydrophobic complex of casein and ??-carotene decreases whereas the solubility of dextran increases gradually, then nanoparticles formed with casein and ??-carotene core and dextran shell. The particles have spherical shape and are stable in aqueous solution against dilution, pH change, ionic strength change, FeCl 3 oxidation and long time storage. The encapsulated ??-carotene can be released by pepsin or trypsin hydrolysis. To our knowledge, this is the first report of simultaneous nanoparticle formation and encapsulation induced by hydrophobic interaction. Casein-graft-dextran copolymer and the nanoparticle preparation is a green process in which only alkali and ethanol, no other chemicals, were used. ?? 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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