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 New gene catalog of ocean microbiome reveals surprises
18.08.2017 | University of Hawaii at Manoa

nachricht Organ Crosstalk: Fatty Liver Can Cause Damage to Other Organs
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Diabetesforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New gene catalog of ocean microbiome reveals surprises

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

AI implications: Engineer's model lays groundwork for machine-learning device

18.08.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>