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J Comp Neurol. 2004 Apr 26;472(2):173-82.

Taste bud cell dynamics during normal and sodium-restricted development.

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  • 1Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center and Department of Otolaryngology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7923, USA.


Taste bud volume increases over the postnatal period to match the number of neurons providing innervation. To clarify age-related changes in fungiform taste bud volume, the current study investigated developmental changes in taste bud cell number, proliferation rate, and life span. Taste bud growth can largely be accounted for by addition of cytokeratin-19-positive taste bud cells. Examination of taste bud cell kinetics with 3H-thymidine autoradiography revealed that cell life span and turnover periods were not altered during normal development but that cells were produced more rapidly in young rats, a prominent modification that could lead to increased taste bud size. By comparison, dietary sodium restriction instituted during pre- and postnatal development results in small taste buds at adulthood as a result of fewer cytokeratin-19-positive cells. The dietary manipulation also had profound influences on taste bud growth kinetics, including an increased latency for cells to enter the taste bud and longer life span and turnover periods. These studies provide fundamental, new information about taste bud development under normal conditions and after environmental manipulations that impact nerve/target matching.

Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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