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Brewers’ spent grain (BSG) is a low-value co-product of the brewing industry produced in large quantities annually. This paper reviews the existing evidence regarding the phenolic component of BSG, focusing on composition, extraction and biofunctions such as antioxidant, anti-atherogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activities. Furthermore, the incorporation of BSG in foodstuffs will be discussed, including the use of BSG as an animal feed supplement and the potential of BSG to be incorporated into foods for human consumption. BSG contains hydroxycinnamic acids including ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid and caffeic acid; which have shown bioactivity in the pure form (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic and anti-cancer). Phenolic extracts from BSG have also shown antioxidant potential, by protecting against oxidant-induced DNA damage, possibly by Fe chelation. Studies show that BSG has many benefits when used as a supplement in animal feed, such as increasing milk yield, milkfat content and in providing essential dietary amino acids. The incorporation of BSG in human foods such as cookies and ready-to-eat snacks has resulted in increased protein and fibre contents of the products, where the changes in organoleptic properties are controllable. It can be concluded that the phenolic component of BSG has potential bioactive effects, which are worth pursuing given that the inclusion of BSG into human foodstuffs is viable and beneficial.
Oxysterols are oxygenated derivatives of cholesterol that may be formed endogenously or absorbed from the diet. Significant amounts of oxysterols have frequently been identified in foods of animal origin, in particular highly processed foods. To date, oxysterols have been shown to possess diverse biological activities; however, recent attention has focused on their potential role in the development of atherosclerosis. Oxysterols have been reported to induce apoptosis in cells of the arterial wall, a primary process in the development of atheroma. The aim of the present study was to identify the role of the mitochondria in the apoptotic pathways induced by the oxysterols 7β-hydroxycholesterol (7β-OH) and cholesterol-5β,6β-epoxide (β-epoxide) in U937 cells. To this end, we investigated the effects of these oxysterols on mitochondrial membrane potential, caspase-8 activity, the mitochondrial permeability transition pore and cytochrome c release. 7β-OH-induced apoptosis was associated with a loss in mitochondrial membrane potential after 2 h, accompanied by cytochrome c release from the mitochondria into the cytosol after 16 h. Pre-treatment with a range of inhibitors of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore protected against 7β-OH-induced cell death. In contrast, β-epoxide induced a slight increase in caspase-8 activity but had no effect on mitochondrial membrane potential or cytochrome c release. The present results confirm that 7β-OH-induced apoptosis occurs via the mitochondrial pathway and highlights differences in the apoptotic pathways induced by 7β-OH and β-epoxide in U937 cells.
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