Chemical conversion of alpha-amino acids into alpha-keto acids by 4,5-epoxy-2-decenal.
ABSTRACT The comparative formation of phenylalanine and phenylpyruvic acid in the reaction of 4,5-epoxy-2-decenal with phenylalanine was studied to determine whether epoyalkenals may also degrade amino acids without producing their decarboxylation. Both compounds were produced in the reaction to an extent that depended on the reaction pH, the amount of lipid oxidation product, and the reaction time and temperature. The optimum pH was 3 for producing both carbonyl derivatives, and the amount of both compounds increased linearly with the amount of epoxyalkenal present in the reaction mixture. In addition, phenylpyruvic acid was produced to a higher extent than phenylacetaldehyde at 37 degrees C. However, at 60 degrees C the degradation of phenylpyruvic acid was observed and phenylacetaldehyde was usually found to a higher extent than the alpha-keto acid in the overnight-incubated reaction mixtures. The degradation of phenylpyruvic acid produced benzaldehyde and phenylacetaldehyde. All these results suggest that epoxyalkenals can not only degrade amino acids by a Strecker-type mechanism but convert them into their corresponding alpha-keto acids. This new reaction may be an alternative chemical route for the formation in foods of alpha-keto acids, which can later participate in the generation of important amino acid-derived flavor compounds.