Exploring the Lipids Involved in the Formation of Characteristic Lactones in Japanese Black Cattle

Metabolites. 2021 Mar 29;11(4):203. doi: 10.3390/metabo11040203.


The meat from Japanese Black cattle (Japanese Wagyu) is finely marbled and exhibits a rich and sweet aroma known as Wagyu beef aroma. To clarify the key metabolites involved in the aroma, we analyzed the correlation between lactone and lipid composition in Japanese Black cattle. Using gas chromatography-olfactometry, we identified 39 characteristic odorants of the intermuscular fat. Seven characteristic lactones considered to be involved in Wagyu beef aroma were quantified and compared in the marbled area and intermuscular fat using a stable isotope dilution assay. Among them, γ-hexalactone was the only lactone whose level was significantly higher in the marbled area. To explore the lipid species involved in lactone formation, we analyzed samples with different aroma characteristics. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry revealed eight lipid classes and showed significant differences in triacylglycerides (TAGs). To determine the molecular species of TAGs, we performed high-performance liquid chromatography analysis and identified 14 TAG species. However, these analyses showed that seven lactones had a low correlation with the TAGs. However, γ-hexalactone showed a positive correlation with linoleic acid. This study suggests that lipid composition affects the characteristic lactone profile involved in the Wagyu beef aroma.

Keywords: Japanese black cattle; gas chromatography-olfactometry; lipidomics; triacylglyceride; wagyu beef aroma.