Catalase is an antioxidant enzyme abundant in natural resources. However, the enzyme is usually inactivated by gastric acid and digestive enzymes after oral ingestion. In this study, carboxymethyl chitosan (CM-chitosan) and hyaluronic acid (HA) conjugate hydrogel microspheres have been prepared by an emulsion cross-linking technique to retain the activity of catalase in simulated gastrointestinal (GI) fluids. Cross-linking reduced the swelling capability and increased the resistance toward hyaluronidase digestion of prepared HA-CM-chitosan hydrogel microspheres. Catalase entrapped in the hydrogel microspheres exhibited superior stability over a wide pH range (pH 2.0 and 6.0-8.0) as compared to the native enzyme. The entrapped catalase was also protected against degradation by digestive enzymes. Following the treatments, the catalase-loaded microspheres, in contrast to native catalase, could effectively decrease the intracellular H2O2 level and protect HT-29 colonic epithelial cells against H2O2-induced oxidative damage to preserve cell viability. These results suggested that the HA-CM-chitosan hydrogel microspheres can be used for entrapment, protection and intestinal delivery of catalase for H2O2 scavenging.
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