Metmyoglobin

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Metmyoglobin is the oxidised form of the oxygen-carrying hemeprotein myoglobin. Metmyoglobin is the cause of the characteristic brown colouration of meat that occurs as it ages.

In living muscle, the concentration of metmyoglobin is vanishingly small, due to the presence of the enzyme metmyoglobin reductase, which, in the presence of the cofactor NADH and the coenzyme cytochrome b4 converts the Fe3+ in the heme prosthetic group of metmyoglobin back to the Fe2+ of normal myoglobin. In meat, which is dead muscle, the normal processes of removing metmyoglobin are prevented from effecting this repair, or alternatively the rate of metmyoglobin formation exceeds their capacity, so that there is a net accumulation of metmyoglobin as the meat ages.

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