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Physiol Rev. 2001 Oct;81(4):1567-97.

Calcium: taste, intake, and appetite.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


This review summarizes research on sensory and behavioral aspects of calcium homeostasis. These are fragmented fields, with essentially independent lines of research involving gustatory electrophysiology in amphibians, ethological studies in wild birds, nutritional studies in poultry, and experimental behavioral studies focused primarily on characterizing the specificity of the appetite in rats. Recently, investigators have begun to examine potential physiological mechanisms underlying calcium intake and appetite. These include changes in the taste perception of calcium, signals related to blood calcium concentrations, and actions of the primary hormones of calcium homeostasis: parathyroid hormone, calcitonin, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Other influences on calcium intake include reproductive and adrenal hormones and learning. The possibility that a calcium appetite exists in humans is discussed. The broad range of observations documenting the existence of a behavioral limb of calcium homeostasis provides a strong foundation for future genetic and physiological analyses of this behavior.

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