The efficacy of chitosan has been proven, but to understand how this polysaccharide works it is necessary to describe its specific characteristics and mechanism of action.




Chitosan is a natural derivative of biological origin, which is obtained starting from the partial deacetylation of chitin (a polysaccharide composed of N-acetyl-D glucosamine units) in an alkaline environment. To date, the OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine) allows the usage of the use of chitosan in oenology for wine processing, or to boost the activity of fining agents in both wines and musts. However only chitosan of fungal origin, and specifically from Aspergillus niger may be used in winemaking.


Research conducted in laboratory on the potential of chitosan is constantly evolving and shows surprising results; indeed, chitosan is an element which, in addition to having proven efficacy and versatility of use, also stands out because it is easily available and biodegradable.

Another important function of chitosan is the removal of metal cations from the solution, which, reduces the content of heavy metals such as iron, lead, cadmium and copper.

On the one hand, this type of action allows avoiding copper and iron instabilities, on the other, it further destabilises the microbial wall by removing structural cations.


In addition, it reduces any unwanted compounds such as ochratoxin A, a fungal toxin that can be found following microbial alterations in grapes. But what makes chitosan the polysaccharide of choice in oenology is its ability to inhibit Brettanomyces: against these contaminating yeasts, in fact, chitosan serves as an indispensable adjuvant and its use allows achieving incomparable results compared to other products.

Indeed, we know that chitosan is obtained from the partial deacetylation of chitin, during which the release of the primary amino groups occurs, which, in an acid environment, are protonated, thus yielding a positive charge.


This particular type of charged structure is functional to the disintegration of the membranes of bacteria and yeasts. In fact, one of the mechanisms by which chitosan acts results from the fact that the outside of the cell wall for bacteria is negatively charged and, therefore, being positively charged, acts by complementary charge. On the other hand, yeasts do not have an obvious negative charge, but it is thought that they incorporate chitosan into their own wall during growth, thus leading to wall disintegration. An alternative mechanism of action can be traced back to the binding of chitosan to microbial DNA, which would effectively block DNA transcription and replication.

In addition, CHITOCEL has the advantage of not belonging to the family of allergens, like other similar products that, among other things, exert an antimicrobial activity only on some families of bacteria and can contribute to increasing protein instability.

We observed an important difference before and after treatment with CHITOCEL: the first microbial count had such a high number of colonies that we could not quantify it. After treatment with CHITOCEL, we did not see any contaminating cells on the plate whatsoever.


CHITOCEL Must and CHITOCEL Red exert a clarifying action, contribute to the reduction of the content of heavy metals such as iron, lead, cadmium and copper, thus preventing iron and copper instabilities, and allow reducing any contaminants (such as ochratoxin), thanks to the synergy with yeast hulls and tannins.

Therefore, both have antimicrobial properties and allow limiting the use of sulfur dioxide, in line with growing market demands which, in recent years, have been calling for products with ever lower sulphite contents.