Cyclodextrins

At a Glance

Cyclodextrins are oligosaccharides obtained by enzymatic means from starch-containing raw materials such as corn or potatoes. Cyclodextrins are vegetarian-grade and non-allergenic, and do not have an E number. The characteristic feature of cyclodextrin molecules is their ring-shaped, three-dimensional structure,with a hydrophobic cavity in the center, which is capable of receiving a lipophilic “guest” molecule – provided its size and shape are compatible. Its hydrophilic outer surface ensures compatibility with aqueous systems. These specific properties of cyclodextrin complexes open up a wide range of new application fields in a wide variety of industries. WACKER is the only company in the world to manufacture all three natural cyclodextrins – α, β and γ. WACKER markets them under the product name CAVAMAX®: We offer CAVAMAX® cyclodextrins in pharmaceutical grade (CAVAMAX® Pharma), food grade (CAVAMAX® Food), as well as standard technical grade. In addition, we have various other CAVAMAX® complexes in our portfolio. CAVAMAX® cyclodextrins from WACKER are used in different applications in the food and food supplement industries, as well as in consumer care, pharmaceuticals and (construction) paints.

In the food industry, for example, alpha-cyclodextrin (also known as alphadextrin) offers a new vegetarian-grade alternative to stabilization of oil-in-water emulsions. It can also be used as a whipping aid for liquid and dry proteins. As a whipping agent, it makes it possible to produce new mousse products without the need for fat or dairy protein. alpha-Cyclodextrin is used in Europe, USA and many other countries as a soluble dietary fiber. Moreover, the European Commission has certified that alpha-cyclodextrin has a scientifically proven health benefit (health claim). The EU expert opinion confirmed that alpha-cyclodextrins can reduce the increase in blood sugar after a starchy meal. Other applications of cyclodextrins in the food industry include masking bitter tasting substances, stabilizing aromas and increasing the bioavailability of active ingredients.

Because they are capable of reversible inclusion of other substances, cyclodextrins can also be used in pharmaceutical and chemical fields of application, for modifying the properties of compounds: for example improving the stability and solubility in aqueous media or to reduce the volatility; likewise, they can mask the taste or odor of drugs. Besides this, cyclodextrins are used in fermentation to extract the desired fermentation products. They are particularly suitable for lipophilic products.

In addition, cyclodextrins can also be used to selectively improve the properties of polymer systems: For example as processing auxiliaries in polymerization processes or as additives for rheology control – in a range of different industries, in construction applications as well as in life science applications.

Cyclodextrins are non-reducing chiral sugars, whose molecules are made of several glucose building blocks linked into a ring. According to the number of glucose units, a distinction is made between α-, β- and γ-cyclodextrin: α-cyclodextrin consists of six, β-cyclodextrin of seven and γ-cyclodextrin of eight glucose units. Cyclodextrins are natural degradation products of starch. The cyclodextrin molecules are structured so that the hydrophilic (water-loving) glucose building blocks face outwards and there is a lipophilic cavity (i.e. one with an affinity for fat) on the inside. This cavity can receive another lipophilic molecule as a “guest,” provided it is of the appropriate size and shape. The cohesion between the two molecules is produced by relatively weak van der Waals forces, enabling the guest molecule to be liberated again under suitable conditions. The weak van der Waals interactions within an inclusion compound do not chemically alter the “guest” or “host” molecules involved.