Using milk fat to reduce the irritation and bitter taste of ibuprofen

Samantha M. Bennett, Lisa Zhou, John E. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Bitterness and irritation elicited by pharmaceutically active molecules remain problematic for pediatric medications, fortified foods, and dietary supplements. Few effective methods exist for reducing these unpalatable sensations, negatively impacting medication compliance and intake of beneficial phytonutrients. A physicochemical approach to masking these sensations may be the most successful approach for generalizability to a wide range of structurally and functionally unique compounds. Here, solutions of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen, were prepared in milk products with varying fat content. Our hypothesis, based on other reports of similar phenomena, was that increasing the fat content would cause ibuprofen to selectively partition into the fat phase, thereby reducing interaction with sensory receptors and decreasing adversive sensations. Quantification of the aqueous concentration of ibuprofen was performed using an isocratic high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method coupled with an external standard curve. Sensory testing showed a modest but significant decrease (∼20 %) in irritation ratings between the skim milk (0 % fat) and the half-and-half (11 % fat) samples, indicating that increased fat may contribute to a reduced sensory response. Bitterness was not reduced, remaining constant over all fat levels. The HPLC results indicate a constant amount of ibuprofen remained in the aqueous phase regardless of fat level, so a simple partitioning hypothesis cannot explain the reduced irritancy ratings. Association of ionized ibuprofen with continuous phase solutes, such as unabsorbed protein, should be explored in future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-236
Number of pages6
JournalChemosensory Perception
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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