Analysis of lunasin in commercial and pilot plant produced soybean products and an improved method of lunasin purification

J Food Sci. 2012 May;77(5):C539-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2012.02676.x. Epub 2012 Apr 17.


Lunasin is a bioactive peptide present in soybean. It is important to quantify lunasin concentration in soy products to assess its potential impact as functional food. The objectives of this study were to analyze lunasin in commercial soymilk products and implement an efficient method to isolate and purify it from defatted soybean flour. Defatted soybean flour was suspended in water, and the extract was loaded in a pre-equilibrated diethylaminoethyl column and bound proteins eluted using a step gradient of salt. Most lunasin was eluted from the column at 0.2 to 0.4M NaCl as quantified by immunoassays and purified using ultracentrifugation and ultrafiltration techniques. Lunasin purity was ≥90% and a standard curve was used to quantify its concentration in soymilk products. Concentration of lunasin in soy products, including organic soymilk, soy protein shakes, and soy infant formulas, ranged from 1.78 to 9.26 mg lunasin/100 g product. The concentration per serving ranged from 1.59 ± 0.01 to 22.23 ± 0.74 mg lunasin with variability depending on brand and size per serving. Steam-ground-cooked soy had the highest concentration of lunasin (22.23 ± 0.74 mg/serving), similar to some commercial products. Ground-cooked soymilk contained roughly half the concentration of lunasin (14.39 ± 1.4 mg/serving). Soy infant formulas that used soy protein isolate revealed lower concentrations of lunasin (P < 0.05). It was concluded that all soymilk products analyzed contained lunasin, and a more efficient method to isolate lunasin with higher purity was developed.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification*
  • Soy Milk / chemistry*
  • Soy Milk / isolation & purification
  • Soybean Proteins / isolation & purification*
  • Soybeans / chemistry*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • GM2S-1 protein, soybean
  • Plant Extracts
  • Soybean Proteins