Exploitation of Leuconostoc mesenteroides strains to improve shelf life, rheological, sensory and functional features of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica L.) fruit puree
Di Cagno R
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Strains of Leuconostoc mesenteroides were identified from raw prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica L.). Five autochthonous strains were selected based on the kinetics of growth and acidification on prickly pear fruit juice, and the capacity to synthesize exo-polysaccharides. All selected Leuc. mesenteroides strains showed an in vitro mucilage-degrading capability. A protocol for processing and storage of fermented prickly pear fruit puree (FP) was set up. Unstarted FP and chemically acidified FP were used as the controls. Starters grew and remained viable at elevated cell numbers during 21 days of storage at 4 degrees C. Contaminating Enterobacteriaceae and yeasts were found only in the controls. Viscosity and serum separation distinguished started FP compared to the controls. Colour parameters, browning index, sensory attributes, antimicrobial activity, vitamin C and betalains levels were positively affected by lactic acid fermentation. Increase of free radical scavenging activity in ethyl acetate soluble extract suggested an effect of selected strains on phenolic profiles. Started FP markedly inhibited the inflammatory status of Caco-2/TC7 cells, and also contributed to maintaining the integrity of tight junctions. Started FP scavenged the reactive oxygen species generated by H2O2 on Caco-2 cells. All selected strain variously affected the immunomodulatory activity towards anti-and pro-inflammatory cytokines.