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Curr Biol. 2005 May 24;15(10):929-34.

The pungency of garlic: activation of TRPA1 and TRPV1 in response to allicin.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.

Abstract

Garlic's pungent flavor has made it a popular ingredient in cuisines around the world and throughout history. Garlic's health benefits have been elevated from folklore to clinical study. Although there is some controversy as to the efficacy of garlic, garlic products are one of the most popular herbal supplements in the U.S. Chemically complex, garlic contains different assortments of sulfur compounds depending on whether the cloves are intact, crushed, cooked, or raw. Raw garlic, when cut and placed on the tongue or lips, elicits painful burning and prickling sensations through unknown mechanisms. Here, we show that raw but not baked garlic activates TRPA1 and TRPV1, two temperature-activated ion channels that belong to the transient receptor potential (TRP) family. These thermoTRPs are present in the pain-sensing neurons that innervate the mouth. We further show that allicin, an unstable component of fresh garlic, is the chemical responsible for TRPA1 and TRPV1 activation and is therefore likely to cause garlic's pungency.

PMID:
15916949
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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