This work reported a novel approach to synthesize phytosterol (ˇ-sitosterol as a model) fatty acid esters by employing Candida antarctica lipase A (CAL A) which shows a superior catalytic activity to other lipases. A series of ˇ-sitosteryl fatty acid esters (C2–C18) have been successfully prepared with structural identification of products by 1H NMR and Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Compared to other immobilized lipases, CAL A achieves 6–14 times faster esterification of ˇ-sitosterol with myristic acid. CAL A shows low activity toward short chain fatty acids (C2–C6), and remarkably high activity for medium and long chain ones (≥C8). Reaction time, temperature, enzyme load, substrate ratio and concentration, and solvent property are found to profoundly influence reaction rates. A pronounced correlation between enzyme activities and log P values of solvents, among the solvents with a broad spectrum of log P values, was observed. 93–98% yield of ˇ-sitosteryl esters could be achieved with hexane as solvent, fatty acid (C8–C18)/ˇ-sitosterol (1:1, mol:mol), 5–10% CAL A load at 40–50 ◦C for 24 h. This work demonstrated the promising potential of CAL A in bioprocess of phytosterols for value-added application.
Biochemical Engineering Journal, 2013, Vol 70, p. 55-62