Structure-function properties of hemp seed proteins and protein-derived acetylcholinesterase-inhibitory peptides
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Hemp seed proteins (HSP) were investigated for physicochemical and functional properties in model food systems. In addition, the HSP were enzymatically digested and the released peptides investigated as potential therapeutic agents. Membrane isolated HSP (mHPC) were the most soluble with >60% solubility at pH 3-9 when compared to a maximum of 27% for isoelectric pH-precipitated proteins (iHPI). However, iHPI formed emulsions with smaller oil droplet sizes (<1 µm) while mHPI formed bigger oil droplets. The iHPI was subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis using different concentrations (1-4%) of six proteases (pepsin, pancreatin, flavourzyme, thermoase, papain and alcalase) to produce various HSP hydrolysates (HPHs). HPHs had strong in vitro inhibitions of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) and renin activities, the two main enzyme systems involved in hypertension. Oral administration of the HPHs to spontaneously hypertensive rats led to fast and persistent reductions in systolic blood pressure. The HPHs also inhibited in vitro activities of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), a serine hydrolase whose excessive activities lead to inadequate level of the cholinergic neurotransmitter, acetylcholine (ACh). Inadequate ACh level in the brain has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD); therefore, AChE inhibition is a therapeutic target. The 1% pepsin HPH was the most active with up to 54% AChE inhibition at 10 µg/mL peptide concentration. The 1% pepsin HPH (dominated by <1 kDa) was subjected to reverse-phase HPLC peptide purification coupled with tandem mass spectrometry, which led to identification of several peptide sequences. Some of the peptides inhibited activities of both animal and human AChE forms with LYV being the most potent against human AChE (IC50 = 7 µg/ml). Thus the LYV peptide may serve as a useful template for the development of future potent AChE-inhibitory peptidomimetics. In conclusion, several novel AChE-inhibitory peptides were discovered and their amino acid sequences elucidated for the first time. Results from this work identified HSP products that could serve as functional ingredients in the food industry. The work also produced and confirmed the in vitro AChE-inhibitory activities of several new peptide sequences that may serve as therapeutic agents for AD management.