Renal excretion and sodium appetite provide the basis for sodium homeostasis. In both the kidney and tongue, the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) is involved in sodium uptake and sensing. The diuretic drug amiloride is known to block ENaC, producing a mild natriuresis. However, amiloride is further reported to induce salt appetite in rodents after prolonged exposure as well as bitter taste impressions in humans. To examine how dietary sodium content and amiloride impact on sodium appetite, mice were subjected to dietary salt and amiloride intervention and subsequently analyzed for ENaC expression and taste reactivity. We observed substantial changes of ENaC expression in the colon and kidney confirming the role of these tissues for sodium homeostasis, whereas effects on lingual ENaC expression and taste preferences were negligible. In comparison, prolonged exposure to amiloride-containing drinking water affected β- and αENaC expression in fungiform and posterior taste papillae, respectively, next to changes in salt taste. However, amiloride did not only change salt taste sensation but also perception of sucrose, glutamate, and citric acid, which might be explained by the fact that amiloride itself activates bitter taste receptors in mice. Accordingly, exposure to amiloride generally affects taste impression and should be evaluated with care.
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