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A recent study has found 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.
In the study “Diet-Induced Obesity Reduces the Responsiveness of the Peripheral Taste Receptor Cells,” which was published in the scientific journal Plos One, the researchers used C57Bl/6 mice which readily become obese when placed on a high fat diet. After 10 weeks on the high fat diet, they used calcium imaging to measure how taste-evoked calcium signals were affected in the obese mice.
The researchers noted 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. Properties of the taste-evoked calcium signals were also significantly altered in the obese mice. Behavioral analyses found that mice on the high-fat diet had reduced ability to detect some taste stimuli compared to their litter-mate controls.
“Behavioral analysis also reveals that obesity can affect some taste preferences,” according to the study. “Since nothing is currently known about the relationship between the peripheral taste receptor cells and obesity, this study is the first 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.”