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The role of intramuscular connective tissue in meat texture

Nishimura, Takanori
Animal science journal = 2010 v.81 no.1 pp. 21-27
animal growth, animals, beef, breeds, collagen, cooked foods, crosslinking, intramuscular fat, marbling, muscle fibers, muscles, myofibrils, raw meat, strength (mechanics), tenderizing, texture
The structure, composition and amount of intramuscular connective tissue (IMCT) vary tremendously between muscles, species and breeds, and certainly contribute to meat texture. With animal growth, collagen crosslinks become more stable, and the structural integrity of IMCT increases. These changes increase the mechanical properties of IMCT, contributing to the toughening of meat. Intramuscular fat deposits, mainly in the perimysium between muscle fiber bundles, result in marbling. This causes the remodeling of IMCT structures and reduces the mechanical strength of IMCT, contributing to the tenderization of beef. The IMCT has been thought to be rather immutable compared to myofibrils during postmortem ageing of meat. However, recent studies have shown the disintegration of IMCT during postmortem ageing of meat and its relationship to tenderization of raw meat, although its contribution to cooked meat is still controversial. Given the large influence of IMCT on meat texture, further elucidations of molecular mechanisms which change the structural integrity of IMCT during chronological ageing of animals and postmortem ageing of meat are needed.