Send to

Choose Destination
Meat Sci. 2005 Sep;71(1):194-204. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2005.04.022. Epub 2005 Jun 14.

Mechanisms of water-holding capacity of meat: The role of postmortem biochemical and structural changes.

Author information

Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Unacceptable water-holding capacity costs the meat industry millions of dollars annually. However, limited progress has been made toward understanding the mechanisms that underlie the development of drip or purge. It is clear that early postmortem events including rate and extent of pH decline, proteolysis and even protein oxidation are key in influencing the ability of meat to retain moisture. Much of the water in the muscle is entrapped in structures of the cell, including the intra- and extramyofibrillar spaces; therefore, key changes in the intracellular architecture of the cell influence the ability of muscle cells to retain water. As rigor progresses, the space for water to be held in the myofibrils is reduced and fluid can be forced into the extramyofibrillar spaces where it is more easily lost as drip. Lateral shrinkage of the myofibrils occurring during rigor can be transmitted to the entire cell if proteins that link myofibrils together and myofibrils to the cell membrane (such as desmin) are not degraded. Limited degradation of cytoskeletal proteins may result in increased shrinking of the overall muscle cell, which is ultimately translated into drip loss. Recent evidence suggests that degradation of key cytoskeletal proteins by calpain proteinases has a role to play in determining water-holding capacity. This review will focus on key events in muscle that influence structural changes that are associated with water-holding capacity.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center