Differential bitterness in capsaicin, piperine, and ethanol associates with polymorphisms in multiple bitter taste receptor genes

Alissa A. Nolden, John E. McGeary, John E. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

To date, the majority of research exploring associations with genetic variability in bitter taste receptors has understandably focused on compounds and foods that are predominantly or solely perceived as bitter. However, other chemosensory stimuli are also known to elicit bitterness as a secondary sensation. Here we investigated whether TAS2R variation explains individual differences in bitterness elicited by chemesthetic stimuli, including capsaicin, piperine and ethanol. We confirmed that capsaicin, piperine and ethanol elicit bitterness in addition to burning/stinging sensations. Variability in perceived bitterness of capsaicin and ethanol were significantly associated with TAS2R38 and TAS2R3/. 4/. 5 diplotypes. For TAS2R38, PAV homozygotes perceived greater bitterness from capsaicin and ethanol presented on circumvallate papillae, compared to heterozygotes and AVI homozygotes. For TAS2R3/. 4/. 5, CCCAGT homozygotes rated the greatest bitterness, compared to heterozygotes and TTGGAG homozygotes, for both ethanol and capsaicin when presented on circumvallate papillae. Additional work is needed to determine how these and other chemesthetic stimuli differ in bitterness perception across concentrations and presentation methods. Furthermore, it would be beneficial to determine which TAS2R receptors are activated in vitro by chemesthetic compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume156
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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