Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physiologists discover how temperature influences our taste

16.12.2005


The sweet taste of temperature



Why does a beer taste better if it comes from the fridge and does a warm beer taste bitter? Why is red Bordeaux wine best drunk at room temperature? And what causes that unique taste sensation of ice cream? Researchers from the Physiology section of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven, Belgium) have discovered, together with their Japanese and American colleagues, how the temperature sensitivity of our sense of taste works. Today, they publish their breakthrough in the top professional journal Nature.

How does taste recognition work?


People can distinguish five basic tastes: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami (the Japanese term for the bouillon-like taste found in, for example, meat and mature cheeses). The perception of taste occurs in the taste buds in our tongue. These buds contain taste receptors, specialised proteins able to recognise sweet, bitter, and umami taste molecules in food and drinks. When taste molecules touch the taste receptors, microscopic channels – termed TRPM5 – open in the cell membrane of the taste buds. This causes an electric signal to arise in the taste buds that travels to the brain via nerve fibers, where it is translated into a specific taste sensation.

K.U.Leuven’s physiologists decipher the temperature sensitivity of our sense of taste

Physiologists from the university of Leuven have discovered that this Trpm5-channel in our taste buds is highly sensitive to changes in temperature. At 15ºC the channel scarcely opens, whereas at 37ºC its sensitivity is more than 100 times higher. The warmer the food or fluid in your mouth, that much stronger will TRPM5 react, and thus that much stronger is the electrical signal sent to the brain. For example, the sweet taste of ice cream will only be perceived when it melts and heats up in the mouth. If you serve the same ice cream warm, then the reaction of TRPM5 in your taste buds is much more intense and the taste of the melted ice cream is much sweeter.

Based on these findings, K.U.Leuven’s researchers now conclude in Nature that TRPM5 lies at the basis of our taste’s sensitivity to temperature. This was also confirmed in experiments on mice: taste responses increased dramatically when the temperature of sweet drinks was increased from 15°C to 37°C. This temperature sensitivity of sweet taste was entirely lacking in genetically altered mice that no longer produced the Trpm5 channel.

This research opens the way to the development of chemical substances influencing the functioning of the Trpm5-channels so as to suppress unpleasant tastes, for example, or to explore completely unprecedented and new taste experiences.

Finally, these results provide an explanation for a well known psychophysical experiment, whereby test persons experience taste sensations just by heating specific parts of the tongue. Leuven’s researchers attribute this phenomenon to a direct activation of TRPM5 in the taste buds. Indeed, at higher temperatures the sensitivity of TRPM5 increases to such a degree that it becomes activated in the absence of taste molecules, leading to a “thermal taste” signal to the brains.

Luc West | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/abs/nature04248.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>