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Chem Senses. 2004 Jun;29(5):431-9.

The influence of sodium salts on binary mixtures of bitter-tasting compounds.

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  • 1Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


In order to study potential mixture interactions among bitter compounds, selected sodium salts were added to five compounds presented either alone or as binary bitter-compound mixtures. Each compound was tested at a concentration that elicited 'weak' perceived bitterness. The bitter compounds were mixed at these concentrations to form a subset of possible binary mixtures. For comparison, the concentration of each solitary compound was doubled to measure bitterness inhibition at the higher intensity level elicited by the mixtures. The following sodium salts were tested for bitterness inhibition: 100 mM sodium chloride (salty), 100 mM sodium gluconate (salty), 100 and 20 mM monosodium glutamate (umami), and 50 mM adenosine monophosphate disodium salt (umami). Sucrose (sweet) was also employed as a bitterness suppressor. The sodium salts differentially suppressed the bitterness of compounds and their binary combinations. Although most bitter compounds were suppressed, the bitterness of tetralone was not suppressed, nor was the bitterness of the binary mixtures that contained it. In general, the percent suppression of binary mixtures of compounds was predicted by the average percent suppression of its two components. Within the constraints of the present study, the bitterness of mixtures was suppressed by sodium salts and sucrose independently, with few bitter interactions. This is consistent with observations that the bitter taste system integrates the bitterness of multi-compound solutions linearly.

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