A blood sugar regulating hormone, scientists have discovered, may also alter a person's sensitivity to sweet-tasting foods.
Scientists from University of Maryland School of Medicine found that changing the actions of the hormone glucagon could control how foods taste.
"An interesting possibility resulting from our research is that the development of new food additives could change the way you perceive your food, making it taste more or less sweet," said senior author Steven D. Munger, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"From a food industry perspective, such additives could be used to enhance flavor. From a therapeutic perspective, they could be used to treat patients who under-eat or overeat."
When experimented on mice, the researchers found that blocking glucagon's actions using a specific drug made mice less responsive to a sweet solution they were offered. Thus, the actions of these hormones can be directly manipulated in the mouth.
"That leaves open the possibility that we could also enhance sensitivity to sugars by manipulating glucagon in the other direction. That could open doors for food additives to make what we eat taste sweeter without adding more sugar," says Munger.
"Dr. Munger's findings could have great significance for patients who suffer from diabetes, metabolic disorders or obesity," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., acting president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The study is published online June 14 in the Federation for American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.