12 January - 20 June 2016

Obesity reduces the response of some taste receptors

4 Dec 13

Researchers from the Department of Biological Sciences, at University at Buffalo (USA) have sought to investigate the relationship between obesity and taste perception. Since little is currently known about the relationship between the peripheral taste receptor cells and obesity, this study was the first, they claim, to demonstrate that diet-induced obesity significantly alters the responsiveness of the peripheral taste cells that are responsible for the initial detection of taste stimuli and for sending that taste information to the brain. Using a strain of mice that become readily obese when placed on a high fat diet, the team used calcium imaging to measure how taste-evoked calcium signals were affected compared with controls. Writing on the open access website PLOS one, they report that significantly fewer taste receptor cells were responsive to some appetitive taste stimuli while the numbers of taste cells that were sensitive to aversive taste stimuli did not change. They also noted that properties of the taste-evoked calcium signals were significantly altered in the obese mice. It would appear that the mice on the high fat diet had a reduced ability to detect some taste stimuli compared to their littermate controls. The team claims that its findings demonstrate that diet-induced obesity significantly influences peripheral taste receptor cell signals which likely leads to changes in the central taste system and may cause altered taste perception. They argue that if taste signals are altered, feeding behaviours could also be significantly impacted, and this could contribute to the development of obesity.

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