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Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 11;7:40353. doi: 10.1038/srep40353.

First objective evaluation of taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP), a paradigm gustatory stimulus in humans.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Monserrato, CA, I 09042, Italy.
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Cagliari, Piazza d'Armi, Cagliari, CA, I 09123, Italy.


Practical and reliable methods for the objective measure of taste function are critically important for studying eating behavior and taste function impairment. Here, we present direct measures of human gustatory response to a prototypical bitter compound, 6-n-propyltiouracil (PROP), obtained by electrophysiological recordings from the tongue of subjects who were classified for taster status and genotyped for the specific receptor gene (TAS2R38), and in which taste papilla density was determined. PROP stimulation evoked negative slow potentials that represent the summated depolarization of taste cells. Depolarization amplitude and rate were correlated with papilla density and perceived bitterness, and associated with taster status and TAS2R38. Our study provides a robust and generalizable research tool for the quantitative measure of peripheral taste function, which can greatly help to resolve controversial outcomes on the PROP phenotype role in taste perception and food preferences, and be potentially useful for evaluating nutritional status and health.

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