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Chem Senses. 2008 Jun;33(5):449-60. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjn012. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Orosensory detection of fatty acids by obesity-prone and obesity-resistant rats: strain and sex differences.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Wofford College, 429 North Church Street, Spartanburg, SC 29303, USA.


A series of brief-access (15s) behavioral assays following the formation of a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) to linoleic acid were performed in order to follow up on observations showing differences in the chemosensory responses to dietary fat in obesity-prone (Osborne-Mendel [O-M]) and obesity-resistant (S5B/Pl) rat strains. Strong aversions to linoleic acid (conditioned stimulus 100 microM) were generated in both O-M and S5B/Pl rats to concentrations as low as 2.5 microM. Observed strain differences were in contrast to expectations based upon electrophysiological studies previously showing greater fatty acid-induced inhibition of delayed rectifying K+ channels in S5B/Pl rats. In the CTA assays, the O-M rats showed aversions at lower fatty acid concentrations with more resistance to extinction in brief-access orosensory tests, suggesting that the obesity-prone strain may be more sensitive in the detection and subsequent avoidance of linoleic acid than the obesity-resistant strain. The independent variable of sex produced even greater differences in the avoidance of linoleic acid following conditioning than the effects of strain. Female rats of both strains were significantly more sensitive to fatty acids, showed greater cross-generalization from linoleic to oleic acid, and showed greater avoidance of linoleic acid than male counterparts. These findings suggest genetic influences on yet to be identified mechanisms potentially within the gustatory system that affect the sensitivity to detect the fatty acid chemicals found in dietary fat during brief-access orosensory testing.

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