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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2013 Mar;24(3):226-31. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Aug 25.

Modulation of sweet responses of taste receptor cells.

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Section of Oral Neuroscience, Graduate School of Dental Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Taste receptor cells play a major role in detection of chemical compounds in the oral cavity. Information derived from taste receptor cells, such as sweet, bitter, salty, sour and umami is important for evaluating the quality of food components. Among five basic taste qualities, sweet taste is very attractive for animals and influences food intake. Recent studies have demonstrated that sweet taste sensitivity in taste receptor cells would be affected by leptin and endocannabinoids. Leptin is an anorexigenic mediator that reduces food intake by acting on leptin receptor Ob-Rb in the hypothalamus. Endocannabinoids such as anandamide [N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA)] and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) are known as orexigenic mediators that act via cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) in the hypothalamus and limbic forebrain to induce appetite and stimulate food intake. At the peripheral gustatory organs, leptin selectively suppresses and endocannabinoids selectively enhance sweet taste sensitivity via Ob-Rb and CB1 expressed in sweet sensitive taste cells. Thus leptin and endocannabinoids not only regulate food intake via central nervous systems but also modulate palatability of foods by altering peripheral sweet taste responses. Such reciprocal modulation of leptin and endocannabinoids on peripheral sweet sensitivity may play an important role in regulating energy homeostasis.

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