D M Mock, University of Arkansas for Medical

Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is generally classified in the B complex group. Biotin was discovered in nutritional experiments that demonstrated a factor in many foodstuffs capable of curing the scaly dermatitis, hair loss, and neurologic signs induced in rats fed dried egg white. Avidin, a glycoprotein found in egg white, binds biotin very specifically and tightly. From an evolutionary standpoint, avidin probably serves as a bacteriostat in egg white; consistent with this hypothesis is the observation that avidin is resistant to a broad range of bacterial proteases in both the free and biotin-bound form. Because avidin is also resistant to pancreatic proteases, dietary avidin binds to dietary biotin (and probably any biotin from intestinal microbes) and prevents absorption, carrying the biotin through the gastrointestinal tract. Biotin is synthesized by many intestinal microbes; however, the contribution of microbial biotin to absorbed biotin, if any, remains unknown. Cooking denatures avidin, rendering this protein susceptible to digestion and unable to interfere with absorption of biotin.

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