Proteomic investigation in the detection of the illicit treatment of calves with growth-promoting agents

Giulia Gardini, Piero Del Boccio, Sebastiano Colombatto, Giovanni Testore, Davide Corpillo, Carmine Di Ilio, Andrea Urbani, Carlo Nebbia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of β-agonists, sexual steroids, and corticosteroids as growth-promoting agents (GPAs) in veal calves is forbidden in the European Union (EU) and subjected to restrictions in the US because it may be potentially noxious for both treated animals and the consumer. Although official controls performed in the EU have revealed a limited number of positive samples, the analysis of seized preparations indicate that the use of illegal GPAs is far from being abandoned. The presence of these compounds in matrixes of biological origin often goes unnoticed because of the use of very low dosages and/or of molecules of unknown chemical structure. It is therefore necessary to develop screening methods based on the biological effects of these substances that allow the simultaneous screening of many components, as proteome analysis. When hepatic cytosols and microsomes from calves treated with a combination of GPAs were analyzed by 2-DE, we found changes in the expression of two proteins, which we identified as adenosine kinase and reticulocalbin. Our aim was not to speculate about molecular mechanisms, but to show the ability of the proteomic approach to find biomarkers of illicit treatments and to use it as a basis to develop large-scale screening methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2813-2822
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2006


  • Adenosine kinase
  • Bos taurus liver
  • Food safety
  • Growth-promoting agents
  • Reticulocalbin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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