Protein Expression Changes in Skeletal Muscle in Response to Growth Promoter Abuse in Beef Cattle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The fraudulent treatment of cattle with growth promoting agents (GPAs) is a matter of great concern for the European Union (EU) authorities and consumers. It has been estimated that 10% of animals are being illegally treated in the EU. In contrast, only a much lower percentage of animals (< 0.5%) are actually found as being noncompliant by conventional analytical methods. Thus, it has been proposed that methods should be developed that can detect the use of the substances via the biological effects of these substances on target organs, such as the alteration of protein expression profiles. Here we present a study aimed at evaluating if a correlation exists between the treatment with GPAs and alterations in the two-dimensional electrophoresis (2DE) protein pattern obtained from the biceps brachii skeletal muscle from mixed-bred cattle. After image analysis and statistical evaluation, protein spots that differentiate between treated and control groups were selected for analysis by mass spectrometry. A set of proteins could be defined that accurately detect the use of glucocorticoids and beta(2)-agonists as growth promoters through the changes caused in muscle differentiation. As a further validation, we repeated the analysis using an independent set of samples from a strain of pure-bred cattle and verified these proteins by Western blot analysis.


  • Roberto Stella
  • Giancarlo Biancotto
  • Morten Krogh
  • Roberto Angeletti
  • Giandomenico Pozza
  • Maria Catia Sorgato
  • Peter James
  • Igino Andrighetto
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area


  • dexamethasone, clenbuterol, growth enhancement, cattle, 2D-PAGE, biomarkers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2744-2757
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch