Protein oxidation: basic principles and implications for meat quality

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(11):1191-201. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.577540.


The involvement of oxidized proteins to the development of biological diseases has been studied for a few decades, but the effects and the mechanisms of protein oxidation in food systems are largely unknown. Protein oxidation is defined as the covalent modification of a protein induced either by the direct reactions with reactive oxygen species (ROS) or indirect reactions with secondary by-products of oxidative stress. ROS can cause oxidation in both amino acid side chains and protein backbones, resulting in protein fragmentation or protein-protein cross-linkages. Although all amino acids can be modified by ROS, cysteine, and methionine that are the most susceptible to oxidative changes due to high reaction susceptibility of the sulfur group in those amino acids. Oxidative modifications of proteins can change their physical and chemical properties, including conformation, structure, solubility, susceptibility to proteolysis, and enzyme activities. These modifications can be involved in the regulation of fresh meat quality and influence the processing properties of meat products. Oxidative stress occurs when the formation of oxidants exceeds the ability of antioxidant systems to remove the ROS in organisms. Increased levels of protein oxidation have been associated with various biological consequences, including diseases and aging, in humans and other animal species. The basic principles and products of protein oxidation and the implications of protein oxidation in food systems, especially in meat, are discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calpain
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • Diet
  • Food Handling
  • Food Packaging / methods
  • Food Quality*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Meat / adverse effects
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Methionine / chemistry
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Oxygen
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Methionine
  • Calpain
  • Cysteine
  • Oxygen