Higher concentrations of the anti-aging carnosine in pork increase its nutritional value and quality


Gariépy, C., Palin, M.F., Pomar, C. Goddard, E., Fortin, F., Sullivan, B., Binnie, M.A. Young, M. and Lahaie, L. (2017). Higher concentrations of the anti-aging carnosine in pork increase its nutritional value and quality. Banff Pork Seminars, January 10-12. Banff, Alberta. Poster presentation and abstract.


Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) is a naturally-occurring molecule found in pork. Carnosine possesses many beneficial health-related properties. Among others, pH-buffering, antioxidant, metal-ion chelation and protection against formation of advanced glycation end-products confer carnosine with unique anti-aging properties. For several pathologies such as diabetes and its complication, ocular diseases, aging and neurological disorders, promising preclinical and clinical results have been obtained. Muscle fiber type is the most important determinant of carnosine content with nearly double amount being found in type II fibers, which predominate in swine muscles of commercial importance.
In an ongoing research project (SIP cluster II), differences in muscle carnosine content were observed with Duroc having the highest levels when compared with Yorkshire and Landrace pigs. Large inter-individual variability in carnosine content (from 205 to 382 mg/100 g of tissue) confirms also the potential to further increase its deposition in pork. Additionally, higher carnosine content is associated with improved meat quality attributes and pig genetic background is a key determinant for muscle carnosine content. Polymorphisms in genes involved in carnosine deposition have been identified and could lead to increased level in the meat. Dietary supplementation with different level of beta-alanine, the limiting amino-acid for carnosine synthesis, has linearly decreased protein and lipid oxidation in the meat. Further work is underway.
Implications: Macromolecular glycation and associated pathologies could be ameliorated by diets containing carnosine. Such a unique and relatively unknown health advantage (e.g. increased carnosine content) could differentiate Canadian pork from other food commodities potentially helping the pork industry reach increased market share and change the entire health-related paradigm with meat consumption.