Vitamin A and marbling attributes: Intramuscular fat hyperplasia effects in cattle

Z Kruk, M Bottema, L Reyez-Veliz, R E A Forder, W S Pitchford, C D K Bottema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Twenty Angus steers were fed a diet low in β-carotene and vitamin A for 10 months. Ten steers were supplemented with vitamin A weekly, while the other ten steers did not receive any additional vitamin A. The results demonstrated that the restriction of vitamin A intake increased intramuscular fat (IMF) by 46%. This was a function of the total number of marbling flecks increasing by 22% and the average marbling fleck size increasing by 14%. Vitamin A restriction resulted in marbling flecks that were less branched (22%) and slightly more round (4%) with an increased minor axis length (7%). However, restricting vitamin A did not affect the size of the intramuscular or subcutaneous adipocyte cells or the subcutaneous fat depth. The results suggest that vitamin A affects the amount of marbling and other attributes of the marbling flecks due to hyperplasia rather than hypertrophy. This may explain why vitamin A restriction specifically affects IMF rather than subcutaneous fat deposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Adipocytes
  • Beef
  • Cattle
  • Computer image analysis
  • Intramuscular fat
  • Retinoids


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