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Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Feb 17;18(2). pii: E437. doi: 10.3390/ijms18020437.

Taste Receptors Mediate Sinonasal Immunity and Respiratory Disease.

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Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center Surgical Services, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The bitter taste receptor T2R38 has been shown to play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), where the receptor functions to enhance upper respiratory innate immunity through a triad of beneficial immune responses. Individuals with a functional version of T2R38 are tasters for the bitter compound phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) and exhibit an anti-microbial response in the upper airway to certain invading pathogens, while those individuals with a non-functional version of the receptor are PTC non-tasters and lack this beneficial response. The clinical ramifications are significant, with the non-taster genotype being an independent risk factor for CRS requiring surgery, poor quality-of-life (QOL) improvements post-operatively, and decreased rhinologic QOL in patients with cystic fibrosis. Furthermore, indirect evidence suggests that non-tasters also have a larger burden of biofilm formation. This new data may influence the clinical management of patients with infectious conditions affecting the upper respiratory tract and possibly at other mucosal sites throughout the body.


airway physiology; biofilm; chronic rhinosinusitis; innate immunity; mucociliary clearance; taste receptors; upper respiratory infection

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