Abstract: Quercetin is a hydrophobic flavonoid with high antioxidant activity. However, for biological applications, the bioavailability of quercetin is low due to physiological barriers. For this reason, an alternative is the protection of quercetin in matrices of biopolymers as zein. The objective of this work was to prepare and characterize quercetin-loaded zein nanoparticles by electrospraying and its study of in vitro bioavailability. The physicochemical parameters such as viscosity, density, and electrical conductivity of zein solutions showed a dependence of the ethanol concentration. In addition, rheological parameters demonstrated that solutions of zein in aqueous ethanol present Newtonian behavior, rebounding in the formation of nanoparticles by electrospraying, providing spherical, homogeneous, and compact morphologies, mainly at a concentration of 80% (v/v) of ethanol and of 5% (w/v) of zein. The size and shape of quercetin-loaded zein nanoparticles were studied by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), observing that it was entrapped, distributed throughout the nanoparticle of zein. Analysis by Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) of zein nanoparticles loaded with quercetin revealed interactions via hydrogen bonds. The efficacy of zein nanoparticles to entrap quercetin was particularly high for all quercetin concentration evaluated in this work (87.9 ± 1.5% to 93.0 ± 2.6%). The in vitro gastrointestinal release of trapped quercetin after 240 min was 79.1%, while that for free quercetin was 99.2%. The in vitro bioavailability was higher for trapped quercetin (5.9%) compared to free quercetin (1.9%), than of gastrointestinal digestion. It is concluded, that the electrospraying technique made possible the obtention of quercitin-loaded zein nanoparticles increasing their bioavailability. Practical Application: This type of nanosystems can be used in the food and pharmaceutical industry. Quercetin-loaded zein nanoparticles for its improvement compared to free quercetin can be used to decrease the prevalence of chronic degenerative diseases by increasing of the bioavailability of quercetin in the bloodstream. Other application can be as an antioxidant system in functional foods or oils to increase shelf life.
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