Receptor Regulation in Taste: Can Diet Influence How We Perceive Foods?
Biological Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Pharmacology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Department of Food Science, Cornell University, 247 Stocking Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Authors contributed equally to the work.
J 2018, 1(1), 106-115; https://doi.org/10.3390/j1010011
Received: 26 September 2018 / Revised: 8 October 2018 / Accepted: 10 October 2018 / Published: 14 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers for J-Multidisciplinary Scientific Journal)
Taste buds are the dedicated sensory end organs of taste, comprising a complex and evolving profile of signaling elements. The sensation and ultimate perception of taste depends on the expression of a diverse array of receptors and channels that sense their respective tastes. Receptor regulation is a recognized and well-studied phenomenon in many systems, observed in opioid addiction, insulin resistance and caffeine tolerance. Results from human sensory studies suggest that receptor sensitivity or expression level may decrease after chronic exposure to respective tastants through diet. We review data supporting the theory that taste receptors may become downregulated with exposure to a specific tastant, along with presenting data from a small pilot study, showing the impact of long-term tastant exposure on taste receptor expression in mice. Mice treated with monosodium salt monohydrate (MSG), saccharin and NaCl (typically appetitive tastes) all displayed a significant decrease in mRNA expression for respective umami, sweet and salty receptors/sensory channels. Reduced sensitivity to appetitive tastes may promote overconsumption of foods high in such stimuli.