The findings, published online in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, demonstrate that genetic variation in regions of DNA that encode bitter taste receptors predicts a person’s perception of bitterness from quinine.
Quinine is an anti-malarial drug that comes from the bark of the cinchona tree. Very small amounts are used to flavor tonic water.
“This study teaches us that naturally occurring medicinal compounds taste differently to people based on variations in and near a bitter receptor gene,” said lead author Danielle R. Reed, PhD, a behavioral geneticist at Monell.
It was previously known that people vary in their ability to taste synthetic bitter compounds based on their taste receptor DNA. However, not all bitter compounds are detected by the same receptors and it was not known if bitter perception of naturally-occurring medicines like quinine also was affected by genetic makeup.
In the study, 1457 twins and their siblings tasted quinine and rated its intensity. They also provided DNA samples.
The researchers then evaluated over two million places in the human genome to see whether people who were more similar in their perception of quinine also shared the same pattern of DNA.
They identified a region on chromosome 12 that was both near a bitter receptor and also associated with perception of quinine’s bitterness.
Testing a separate set of 73 twins, Reed and her collaborators confirmed that DNA changes within a gene coding for bitter receptors were associated with how intensely people perceived the bitterness of quinine.
“Depending on differences in human DNA, some people find quinine to be more bitter than others do,“ said Reed.
In addition to being located in the mouth, bitter receptors also are found in the gut. It is possible that people who are insensitive to quinine’s taste might also absorb or metabolize it differently.
Noting that both the taste perception of a compound and its pharmacological properties might be conveyed via the same receptors, Reed speculates, “We wonder whether people who are less sensitive to the taste of some bitter medicines might get less pharmacological benefit from them.”
Future studies will seek to determine whether people who perceive quinine as more bitter are also more likely to benefit from quinine’s anti-malarial actions.
Also contributing to the study were Paul Breslin and Fujiko Duke from Monell and Gu Zhu, Anjali Henders, Megan Campbell, Grant Montgomery, Sarah Medland, Nicholas Martin, and Margaret Wright from Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Australia. The research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Australian Research Council.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Monell advances scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit www.monell.org.
Leslie Stein | Newswise Science News
The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona
Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research