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Proteome Sci. 2013 Jul 24;11:34. doi: 10.1186/1477-5956-11-34. eCollection 2013.

A note on protein expression changes in chicken breast muscle in response to time in transit before slaughtering.

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  • 1Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and the Environment, University of Padova, Viale dell'Università 16, Padova, Legnaro 37020, Italy.
  • 2Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and the Environment, University of Padova, Viale dell'Università 16, Padova, Legnaro 37020, Italy ; Padova University Proteomics Center, Via G. Orus 2b, Padova 35129, Italy.
  • 3Animal Science Department, Ege University, Izmir TR-35100, Turkey.


Aims of the research were to devise a proteome map of the chicken Pectoralis superficialis muscle, as resolved by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and to characterize protein expression changes in the soluble protein fraction in commercial conditions due to age and to time in transit before slaughtering. Broilers were reared under commercial conditions until they reached a mean 1.8 kg and 36 d, or 2.6 kg and 46 d of age. Transport to the slaughterhouse took 90 or 220 minutes. Transport-induced stress was assessed from blood metabolites and leukocyte cell counts, revealing significant changes in albumin, glucose and triglyceride concentrations, in heterophils and leukocyte counts for chickens in transit for longer, and in glucose depending mainly on age. The sarcoplasmic protein fractions were extracted from a total of 39 breast muscle samples, collected 15 min post mortem, for analysis by two-dimensional electrophoresis. Image and statistical analyses enabled us to study the qualitative and quantitative differences between the samples. Twelve up- or down-regulated protein spots were detected (P < 0.05): 8 related to the age effect, 2 to time in transit, and 2 to the interaction between the two. Age and time in transit influenced the avian proteome regulating the biological processes linked to the cellular housekeeping functions, related mainly to metabolism, cell division and control of apoptosis. Principal component analysis clustering was used to assess differences between birds. Age difference discriminated between the chickens analyzed better than time in transit, which seemed to have less general impact on the proteome fraction considered here. Isolating and identifying the proteins whose expression changes in response to transport duration and age shed some light on the biological mechanisms underlying growth and stress-related metabolism in chickens. Our results, combined with a further characterization of the chicken proteome associated with commercial chicken slaughtering management, will hopefully inspire alternative strategies and policies, and action to reduce the impact of stress related to time in transit.


Chicken; Pre-slaughter management; Protein expression; Proteome

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