Kafirin, the sorghum prolamin protein, like its maize homologue zein, can be made into
micropatticles and films and potentially used as a biomaterial. Zein has good bio- and cytocompatibility.
Kafirin could be advantageous as it is more hydrophobic, more cross-linked, more
slowly digested by mammalian proteases than zein and is non-allergenic. The safety and
biocompatibility of kafirin implants in two forms was determined in rodent models. One week
post subcutaneous injection of kafirin micropatticles (size S[!m diameter) in mice, chronic
inflammation, abnormal red blood cells and gross fibrin formation were observed. This chronic
inflammatory response was possibly caused by the release of hydrolysis products such as
glutamate during the degradation of the kafirin microparticles. In contrast, films made from
kaftrin microparticles (50 [!ill thickness, folded into I cm3
) implanted in rats showed no
abnormal inflammatory reactions and were only partially degraded by day 28. The slower
degradation of the kafirin films was probably due to their far smaller surface area when
compared to kafirin micropatticles. Thus, kafirin films appear to have potential as a biomaterial.
This study also raises awareness that the form of prolamin based biomaterials, (kafirin and zein)
should be considered when assessing the safety of such materials.