Protective effects of maillard reaction products of whey protein concentrate against oxidative stress through an Nrf2-Dependent Pathway in HepG2 Cells

Min Cheol Pyo, Sung Yong Yang, Su Hyun Chun, Nam Su Oh, Kwang Won Lee

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Whey protein concentrate (WPC), which contains α-lactalbumin and β-lactoglobulin, is utilized widely in the food industry. The Maillard reaction is a complex reaction that produces Maillard reaction products (MRPs), which are associated with the formation of antioxidant compounds. In this study, the hepatoprotection activity of MRPs of WPC against oxidative stress through the nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)- dependent antioxidant pathway in HepG2 cells was examined. Glucose-whey protein concentrate conjugate (Glc-WPC) was obtained from Maillard reaction between WPC and glucose. The fluorescence intensity of Glc-WPC increased after 7 d compared to native WPC, and resulted in loss of 48% of the free amino groups of WPC. The sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) patterns of Glc-WPC showed the presence of a high-molecular-weight portion. Treatment of HepG2 cells with Glc-WPC increased cell viability in the presence of oxidative stress, inhibited the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species by tert-butyl hydroperoxide (t-BHP), and increased the glutathione level. Nrf2 translocation and Nrf2, reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAD(P)H)-quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NOQ1), heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), glutamate-L-cysteine ligase (GCL)M and GCLC mRNA levels were increased by Glc- WPC. Also, Glc-WPC increased the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 and c-Jun N- Terminal kinase (JNK). The results of this study demonstrate that Glc-WPC activates the Nrf2-dependent pathway through the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and JNK in HepG2 cells, and induces production of antioxidant enzymes and phase II enzymes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1447
Number of pages11
JournalBiological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Maillard reaction
  • Nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science

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