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Understanding how humans detect sweet taste

by Medindia Content Team on April 24, 2006 at 12:39 PM
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Understanding how humans detect sweet taste

The research conducted by the scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center described in detail the mechanism behind the detection of sweet taste by humans. Veronica Galindo-Cuspinera, PhD noted that when saccharin used in high concentration it losses its ability to taste sweet. Then the researcher found that taste perception switches back to sweetness when these high concentrations are rinsed from the mouth with water, resulting in the aftertaste experience known as sweet water taste.

This has guided the researchers to an increased understanding of how humans detect sweet taste. The study was publication in the journal Nature. Scientists from the Monell Chemical Senses Center found that when sodium saccharin and acesulfame-K were used in high concentration it inhibited the sweet taste. Paul A.S. Breslin, PhD, a Monell geneticist said that the study helps in establishing a strong foundation to understand the sweet taste receptor and come up with new sweeteners and inhibitors that can be used both by food industry and in medicine. When both the scientist worked together they found that a high concentration of saccharin prevents the sweetness of any other sweetener to be perceived at the same time.

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A sweetener that gives rise to sweet water taste results as a sweet taste inhibitor. Marcel Winnig, Bernd Bufe, and Wolfgang Meyerhof of the German Institute of Human Nutrition conducted a series of molecular studies using cultured cells expressing the human sweet taste receptor to understand how it can act both as a sweetener and as a sweet inhibitor. The molecular mechanism revealed that at lower concentrations, sweeteners activate the sweet taste receptor. This is done by attaching to a high affinity binding site, leading to perception of sweetness. However at high concentrations it inhibits the cellular responses to other sweeteners by binding to a low-affinity inhibitory site which causes the receptor to shift from an activated state to an inhibitory state.

Then the water rinse removes sweet taste inhibitors from the inhibitory site, the sweet receptor is re-activated and the perception of sweetness returns. Hence in conclusion Galindo-Cuspinera said that sweet water taste can be used as a predictor for
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potential sweet inhibitors. This is of great use in the food industry where undesirable high sweetness occurs while replacing fats with sweet carbohydrates in case of snack foods and salad dressings. The study gives a complete knowledge of human sweet taste perception, leads directly to understand how to stimulate, manipulate, enhance, inhibit, and create synergy of sweet taste.
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