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Neurosci Lett. 2010 Mar 8;471(3):189-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.01.039. Epub 2010 Jan 28.

Taste cell formation does not require gustatory and somatosensory innervation.

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Department of Bioscience Research, College of Dentistry, and Center for Cancer Research, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA.


Dependency of taste buds and taste papillae on innervation has been debated for a long time. Previous research showed neurotrophins, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), play an important role for the establishment of the lingual gustatory and somatosensory innervation. BDNF null mutant mice showed severe deficits in gustatory innervation and loss of taste buds while NT-3 null mutation reduced lingual somatosensory innervation to tongue papillae. These results proved BDNF or NT-3 null mutations affected different sensory modalities (i.e. gustatory and somatosensory, respectively). In this study, we analyzed taste bud development in BDNFxNT-3 double knockout mice to examine the relationship between taste bud development and gustatory/somatosensory innervation. Our results demonstrate that, at the initial stage, before nerve fibers reached the appropriate areas in the papilla, taste bud formation did not require innervation. However, at the synaptogenic stage, after nerve fibers ramified into the apical epithelium, innervation was required and played an essential role in the development of taste buds/papillae.

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