Electrophysiological Responses from the Human Tongue to the Six Taste Qualities and Their Relationships with PROP Taster Status
AbstractTaste buds containing receptor cells that primarily detect one taste quality provide the basis for discrimination across taste qualities. The molecular receptor multiplicity and the interactions occurring between bud cells encode information about the chemical identity, nutritional value, and potential toxicity of stimuli before transmitting signals to the hindbrain. PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil) tasting is widely considered a marker for individual variations of taste perception, dietary preferences, and health. However, controversial data have been reported. We present measures of the peripheral gustatory system activation in response to taste qualities by electrophysiological recordings from the tongue of 39 subjects classified for PROP taster status. The waveform of the potential variation evoked depended on the taste quality of the stimulus. Direct relationships between PROP sensitivity and electrophysiological responses to taste qualities were found. The largest and fastest responses were recorded in PROP super-tasters, who had the highest papilla density, whilst smaller and slower responses were found in medium tasters and non-tasters with lower papilla densities. The intensities perceived by subjects of the three taster groups correspond to their electrophysiological responses for all stimuli except NaCl. Our results show that each taste quality can generate its own electrophysiological fingerprint on the tongue and provide direct evidence of the relationship between general taste perception and PROP phenotype.
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