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Meat Sci. 2001 May;58(1):17-23.

The effect of ageing on the water-holding capacity of pork: role of cytoskeletal proteins.

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Meat Science Area, Department of Dairy and Food Science, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Rolighedsvej 30, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


The water-holding capacity (WHC) of pork decreases post-mortem but has been shown to increase during subsequent ageing. In order to test a hypothesis that water-holding capacity increases during ageing due to degradation of the cytoskeleton, WHC was followed 10 days post-mortem and related to the extent of proteolysis of cytoskeletal proteins. A fast method for measuring WHC in small meat samples was developed by the use of centrifugation. The WHC of fresh pork decreases in the first part of post-mortem storage after which it increases to the level of 1 day PM. No changes in total water content of the meat were observed which could explain changes in WHC during ageing. Vinculin and desmin degrade gradually during ageing while talin degrades rapidly. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that degradation of the cytoskeleton slowly removes the linkage between lateral shrinkage of myofibrils and shrinkage of entire muscle fibres, so removing the force that causes flow into the extracellular space. Inflow of previously expelled water is then possible, so increasing WHC as observed in later periods of storage.


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