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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2007 Feb;64(4):377-81.

Influence of temperature on taste perception.

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Laboratorium voor Fysiologie, Campus Gasthuisberg, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium.


Daily experience tells us that temperature has a strong influence on how we taste. Despite the longstanding interest of many specialists in this aspect of taste, we are only starting to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the temperature dependence of different taste modalities. Recent research has led to the identification of some strong thermosensitive molecules in the taste transduction pathway. The cold activation of the epithelial Na(+) channel and the heat activation of the taste variant of the vanilloid receptor (TRPV1t) may underlie the temperature dependence of salt responses. Heat activation of the transient receptor potential channel TRPM5 explains the enhancement of sweet taste perception by warm temperatures. Current development of methods to study taste cell physiology will help to determine the contribution of other temperature-sensitive events in the taste transduction pathways. Vice versa, the analysis of the thermodynamic properties of these events may assist to unveil the nature of several taste processes.

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