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 Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>