Sodium-deficient diet reduces gustatory activity in the nucleus of the solitary tract of behaving rats

K. Nakamura, R. Norgren

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The activity of single taste neurons was recorded from the nucleus of the solitary tract before (n = 41) and after (n = 58) awake, behaving rats were switched to a sodium-free diet. During sodium deprivation, the spontaneous activity of the neurons increased (142%), but responses to water and sapid stimuli decreased. For all neurons in the sample, the mean response to water decreased to 72% of its predeprivation level, NaCl dropped to 53%, sucrose to 41%, citric acid to 68%, and quinine HCl to 84%. Despite the drop in magnitude, the response profiles of the taste neurons were not changed by the dietary condition. In the Na-replete state, 61% of the activity elicited by NaCl occurred in NaCl-best cells and 33% in sucrose-best neurons. In the depleted state, these values were 60 and 26%, respectively. Nevertheless, at the highest concentrations tested, deprivation did alter the relative responsiveness of the gustatory neurons to sucrose and NaCl in specific categories of neurons. Compared with acute preparations, dietary sodium deprivation in awake, behaving rats produced a more general reduction in the gustatory responses of neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract. The largest reductions in elicited activity occurred for the 'best stimulus' of a particular neuron, thus leading to smaller differences in response magnitude across stimuli, particularly at the highest concentrations tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R647-R661
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3 38-3
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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