The use ofTetrahymena thermophilamutant cell line for removal of cholesterol from milk

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The nonpathogenic ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila converts cholesterol from foodstuffs into provitamin D compounds in high yields. However, prolonged incubation with wild-type strain CU-399 at high densities results in a final deterioration of milk properties, possibly as a result of secreted hydrolases. Here we attempted to solve this problem using MS-1 Tetrahymena strain, a stable mutant with a low rate of hydrolase secretion. Densities of to 2 × 106 cells/ml can be incubated for up to 5 h in milk, without any clotting or change in appearance. Moreover, centrifugation of this suspension eliminates most of the cells, and results in an about 75% ± 10 (n = 10) decrease of the initial cholesterol. Sterols are recovered in the cell pellets, which show that Tetrahymena is able to avidly capture them from the medium. Therefore, this mutant strain is optimal for milk cholesterol depletion, avoiding unfavorable sensory alterations.

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