Metabolites and Metabolic Pathways Correlated With Beef Tenderness

Daniel S. Antonelo, Juan F.M. Gómez, Nara R.B. Cônsolo, Mariane Beline, Luiz A. Colnago, M. Wes Schilling, Xue Zhang, Surendranath P. Suman, David E. Gerrard, Júlio C.C. Baileiro, Saulo L. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Metabolite profile has been used to understand the causes of variability in beef tenderness, but still little is known about how metabolites contribute to beef quality. Therefore, this study was carried out to evaluate how meat metabolites and their metabolic pathways correlate to variability in beef tenderness. Carcasses from 60 noncastrated male cattle were selected, and three 2.5-cm-thick longissimus thoracis steaks were obtained and aged (0°C to 4°C) for 7 d. Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF) was performed (steak 1). Based on WBSF data, 2 tenderness classes (n = 30; 15 per class [tender and tough]) were created to perform sarcomere length (steak 2) and metabolomic analysis (steak 3). Meat ultimate pH did not differ between tenderness classes. However, steaks classified as tender had greater sarcomere length (P = 0.019) than those classified as tough. Acetyl-carnitine (P = 0.026), adenine (P = 0.026), beta-alanine (P = 0.005), fumarate (P = 0.022), glutamine (P = 0.043), and valine (P = 0.030) concentration were higher in tender beef compared with tough beef. The 4 most important compounds differing between tender and tough beef were lactate, glucose, crea-tine, and glutamine, which may indicate that metabolic pathways such as D-glutamine and D-glutamate metabolism, beta-alanine metabolism, purine metabolism, and tricarboxylic acid cycle affected the tenderness classes. Beta-alanine (r = −0.45), acetyl-carnitine (r = −0.40), fumarate (r = −0.38), valine (r = −0.34), glucose (r = −0.32), glutamine (r = −0.31), and adenine (r = −0.31) were negatively correlated with WBSF values. Metabolite profile in tender beef indicated a greater oxidative metabolism, which promoted modifications in the muscle structure and proteolysis, favoring its tenderization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMeat and Muscle Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Antonelo, et al.


  • meat quality
  • metabolomics
  • oxidative metabolism
  • oxidative stress
  • shear force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Science


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