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Anat Rec. 1986 Dec;216(4):474-82.

Variation in human fungiform taste bud densities among regions and subjects.


Taste sensitivity is known to vary among regions of the tongue and between subjects. The distribution of taste buds on the human tongue is examined in this report to determine if interregional and intersubject variation of taste bud density might account for some of the variation in human taste sensitivity. The subjects were ten males, aged 22-80 years, who died from acute trauma or an acute cardiovascular episode. Specimens were obtained as anatomical gifts or from autopsy. A sample of tissue about 1 cm2 was taken from the tongue tip and midlateral region; frozen sections were prepared for light microscopy; and serial sections were examined by light microscopy to count the taste buds. The average taste bud (tb) density on the tongue tip was 116 tb/cm2 with a range from 3.6 to 514 among subjects. The number of gustatory papillae on the tip averaged 24.5 papillae/cm2 with a range from 2.4 to 80. Taste bud density in the midregion averaged 25.2 tb/cm2 (range: 0-85.9), and the mean number of gustatory papillae was 8.25/cm2 (range: 0-28). The mean number of taste buds per papilla was 3.8 +/- 2.2 (s.d.) on the tip and 2.6 +/- 1.5 (s.d.) on the midregion. Subjects with the highest taste bud densities on the tip also had the highest densities in the midregion and the highest number of taste buds per papilla. Taste bud density was 4.6 times higher on the tip than the midregion, which probably accounts for some of the regional difference in taste sensitivity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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