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BMC Biochem. 2010 Mar 5;11:12. doi: 10.1186/1471-2091-11-12.

Specific fibre composition and metabolism of the rectus abdominis muscle of bovine Charolais cattle.

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Etablissement National d'Enseignement Supérieur Agronomique de Dijon (ENESAD), BP 87999, 21079 Dijon Cedex, France.



An important variability of contractile and metabolic properties between muscles has been highlighted. In the literature, the majority of studies on beef sensorial quality concerns M. longissimus thoracis. M. rectus abdominis (RA) is easy to sample without huge carcass depreciation and may appear as an alternative to M. longissimus thoracis for fast and routine physicochemical analysis. It was considered interesting to assess the muscle fibres of M. rectus abdominis in comparison with M. longissimus thoracis (LT) and M. triceps brachii (TB) on the basis of metabolic and contractile properties, area and myosin heavy chain isoforms (MyHC) proportions. Immuno-histochemical, histochemical, histological and enzymological techniques were used. This research concerned two populations of Charolais cattle: RA was compared to TB in a population of 19 steers while RA was compared to LT in a population of 153 heifers.


RA muscle had higher mean fibre areas (3350 microm(2) vs 2142 to 2639 microm(2)) than the two other muscles. In RA muscle, the slow-oxidative fibres were the largest (3957 microm(2)) and the fast-glycolytic the smallest (2868 microm(2)). The reverse was observed in TB muscle (1725 and 2436 microm(2) respectively). In RA muscle, the distinction between fast-oxidative-glycolytic and fast-glycolytic fibres appeared difficult or impossible to establish, unlike in the other muscles. Consequently the classification based on ATPase and SDH activities seemed inappropriate, since the FOG fibres presented rather low SDH activity in this muscle in comparison to the other muscles of the carcass. RA muscle had a higher proportion of I fibres than TB and LT muscles, balanced by a lower proportion either of IIX fibres (in comparison to TB muscle) or of IIA fibres (in comparison to LT muscle). However, both oxidative and glycolytic enzyme activities were lower in RA than in TB muscle, although the LDH/ICDH ratio was higher in RA muscle (522 vs 340). Oxidative enzyme activities were higher in RA than in LT muscle, whereas glycolytic enzyme activity was lower. In RA muscle, contractile and metabolic properties appeared to be less well-correlated than in the two other muscles.


RA muscle has some particularities in comparison to the LT and TB muscles, especially concerning the unusual large cross-section surface of SO fibres and the very low oxidative activity of intermediate IIA fibres.

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