JOURNAL ARTICLE

Tachykinins stimulate a subset of mouse taste cells

Jeff Grant
PloS One 2012, 7 (2): e31697
22363709
The tachykinins substance P (SP) and neurokinin A (NKA) are present in nociceptive sensory fibers expressing transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 1 (TRPV1). These fibers are found extensively in and around the taste buds of several species. Tachykinins are released from nociceptive fibers by irritants such as capsaicin, the active compound found in chili peppers commonly associated with the sensation of spiciness. Using real-time Ca(2+)-imaging on isolated taste cells, it was observed that SP induces Ca(2+) -responses in a subset of taste cells at concentrations in the low nanomolar range. These responses were reversibly inhibited by blocking the SP receptor NK-1R. NKA also induced Ca(2+)-responses in a subset of taste cells, but only at concentrations in the high nanomolar range. These responses were only partially inhibited by blocking the NKA receptor NK-2R, and were also inhibited by blocking NK-1R indicating that NKA is only active in taste cells at concentrations that activate both receptors. In addition, it was determined that tachykinin signaling in taste cells requires Ca(2+)-release from endoplasmic reticulum stores. RT-PCR analysis further confirmed that mouse taste buds express NK-1R and NK-2R. Using Ca(2+)-imaging and single cell RT-PCR, it was determined that the majority of tachykinin-responsive taste cells were Type I (Glial-like) and umami-responsive Type II (Receptor) cells. Importantly, stimulating NK-1R had an additive effect on Ca(2+) responses evoked by umami stimuli in Type II (Receptor) cells. This data indicates that tachykinin release from nociceptive sensory fibers in and around taste buds may enhance umami and other taste modalities, providing a possible mechanism for the increased palatability of spicy foods.

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