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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2006 Dec;291(6):G1005-10. Epub 2006 Jun 29.

Taste receptors in the gastrointestinal tract III. Salty and sour taste: sensing of sodium and protons by the tongue.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0551, USA.


Taste plays an essential role in food selection and consequently overall nutrition. Because salt taste is appetitive, humans ingest more salt than they need. Acids are the source of intrinsically aversive sour taste, but in mixtures with sweeteners they are consumed in large quantities. Recent results have provided fresh insights into transduction and sensory adaptation for the salty and sour taste modalities. The sodium-specific salt taste receptor is the epithelial sodium channel whereas a nonspecific salt taste receptor is a taste variant of the vanilloid receptor-1 nonselective cation channel, TRPV1. The proximate stimulus for sour taste is a decrease in the intracellular pH of a subset of acid-sensing taste cells, which serves as the input to separate transduction pathways for the phasic and tonic parts of the sour neural response. Adaptation to sour arises from the activation of the basolateral sodium-hydrogen exchanger isoform-1 by an increase in intracellular calcium that sustains the tonic phase of the sour taste response.

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