SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Taste bud

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Despite evidence that the ability to taste is weakened by obesity and can be rescued with weight loss intervention, few studies have investigated the molecular effects of obesity on the taste system. Taste bud cells undergo continual turnover even in adulthood, exhibiting an average life span of only a few weeks, tightly controlled by a balance of proliferation and cell death. Recent data reveal that an acute inflammation event can alter this balance. We demonstrate that chronic low-grade inflammation brought on by obesity reduces the number of taste buds in gustatory tissues of mice-and is likely the cause of taste dysfunction seen in obese populations-by upsetting this balance of renewal and cell death.

Concepts: Inflammation, Cancer, Asthma, Obesity, Taste, Tongue, Gustatory system, Taste bud

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INTRODUCTION: Linezolid-induced black hairy tongue has been rarely reported. The purpose of this paper is to report a case of linezolid-induced black hairy tongue and review the literature. CASE PRESENTATION: A 56-year-old Caucasian man was admitted with community-acquired pneumonia that failed to respond to levofloxacin 750mg daily. He was started on linezolid and meropenem and was subsequently discharged home on oral linezolid 600mg every 12 hours and intravenous ertapenem 1g daily. On a follow-up clinic visit, day 14 of linezolid therapy, he complained of dysgeusia and his tongue examination was consistent with black hairy tongue. After he finished his antibiotic course, his complaints resolved with regular tongue brushing. CONCLUSION: Black hairy tongue is characterized by abnormal hypertrophy and elongation of filiform papillae. Five reported cases of linezolid-induced black hairy tongue were identified in a MEDLINE search (from January 2000 to June 2012). The Naranjo Probability Scale revealed a probable adverse drug reaction of linezolid-induced black hairy tongue. Potential contributing factors included other antibiotics, drug–drug interaction and poor oral hygiene. Health care professionals should be aware of the possibility of linezolid-induced black hairy tongue. Thorough history for other possible contributing factors should be obtained. Patients on linezolid should be counseled to perform good oral hygiene.

Concepts: Antibiotic resistance, Probability, Adverse drug reaction, Oral hygiene, Taste bud, Papilla, Black hairy tongue

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Intravital microscopy is a powerful tool in neuroscience but has not been adapted to the taste sensory organ due to anatomical constraint. Here we developed an imaging window to facilitate microscopic access to the murine tongue in vivo. Real-time two-photon microscopy allowed the visualization of three-dimensional microanatomy of the intact tongue mucosa and functional activity of taste cells in response to topically administered tastants in live mice. Video microscopy also showed the calcium activity of taste cells elicited by small-sized tastants in the blood circulation. Molecular kinetic analysis suggested that intravascular taste sensation takes place at the microvilli on the apical side of taste cells after diffusion of the molecules through the pericellular capillaries and tight junctions in the taste bud. Our results demonstrate the capabilities and utilities of the new tool for taste research in vivo.

Concepts: Blood, Biology, Heart, Blood vessel, Organ, Taste, Gustatory system, Taste bud

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Understanding the influence of taste perception on food choice has captured the interest of academics, industry, and the general public, the latter as evidenced by the extent of popular media coverage and use of the term supertaster. Supertasters are highly sensitive to the bitter tastant propylthiouracil (PROP) and its chemical relative phenylthiocarbamide. The well-researched differences in taste sensitivity to these bitter chemicals are partially controlled by variation in the TAS2R38 gene; however, this variation alone does not explain the supertaster phenomenon. It has been suggested that density of papillae, which house taste buds, may explain supertasting. To address the unresolved role of papillae, we used crowdsourcing in the museum-based Genetics of Taste Lab. This community lab is uniquely situated to attract both a large population of human subjects and host a team of citizen scientists to research population-based questions about human genetics, taste, and health. Using this model, we find that PROP bitterness is not in any way predicted by papillae density. This result holds within the whole sample, when divided into major diplotypes, and when correcting for age, sex, and genotype. Furthermore, it holds when dividing participants into oft-used taster status groups. These data argue against the use of papillae density in predicting taste sensitivity and caution against imprecise use of the term supertaster. Furthermore, it supports a growing volume of evidence that sets the stage for hypergeusia, a reconceptualization of heightened oral sensitivity that is not based solely on PROP or papillae density. Finally, our model demonstrates how community-based research can serve as a unique venue for both study participation and citizen science that makes scientific research accessible and relevant to people’s everyday lives.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Prediction, Taste, Taste bud, Supertaster

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Until recently, reliable markers for adult stem cells have been lacking for many regenerative mammalian tissues. Lgr5 (leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor 5) has been identified as a marker for adult stem cells in intestine, stomach, and hair follicle; Lgr5-expressing cells give rise to all types of cells in these tissues. Taste epithelium also regenerates constantly, yet the identity of adult taste stem cells remains elusive. In this study, we found that Lgr5 is strongly expressed in cells at the bottom of trench areas at the base of circumvallate and foliate taste papillae and weakly expressed in the basal area of taste buds and that Lgr5-expressing cells in posterior tongue are a subset of K14-positive epithelial cells. Lineage-tracing experiments using an inducible Cre knock-in allele in combination with Rosa26-LacZ and Rosa26-tdTomato reporter strains showed that Lgr5-expressing cells gave rise to taste cells, perigemmal cells, along with self-renewing cells at the bottom of trench areas at the base of circumvallate and foliate papillae. Moreover, using subtype-specific taste markers, we found that Lgr5-expressing cell progeny include all three major types of adult taste cells. Our results indicate that Lgr5 may mark adult taste stem or progenitor cells in the posterior portion of the tongue.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Epithelium, Skin, Taste, Adult stem cell, Tongue, Gustatory system, Taste bud

28

The Tongue Drive System (TDS) is a wireless and wearable assistive technology, designed to allow individuals with severe motor impairments such as tetraplegia to access their environment using voluntary tongue motion. Previous TDS trials used a magnetic tracer temporarily attached to the top surface of the tongue with tissue adhesive. We investigated TDS efficacy for controlling a computer and driving a powered wheelchair in two groups of able-bodied subjects and a group of volunteers with spinal cord injury (SCI) at C6 or above. All participants received a magnetic tongue barbell and used the TDS for five to six consecutive sessions. The performance of the group was compared for TDS versus keypad and TDS versus a sip-and-puff device (SnP) using accepted measures of speed and accuracy. All performance measures improved over the course of the trial. The gap between keypad and TDS performance narrowed for able-bodied subjects. Despite participants with SCI already having familiarity with the SnP, their performance measures were up to three times better with the TDS than with the SnP and continued to improve. TDS flexibility and the inherent characteristics of the human tongue enabled individuals with high-level motor impairments to access computers and drive wheelchairs at speeds that were faster than traditional assistive technologies but with comparable accuracy.

Concepts: Better, Spinal cord, Improve, The Trial, Disability, Assistive technology, Taste bud, Tongue piercing

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It is important to increase our understanding of gustatory detection of dietary fat and its contribution to fat preference. We studied the roles of the fat taste receptors CD36 and GPR120 and their interactions via Ca(2+) signaling in fungiform taste bud cells (TBC).

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fat, Lipid, Ester, Taste, Taste bud

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Multiple recent reports have detailed the presence of adenosine receptors in sweet sensitive taste cells of mice. These receptors are activated by endogenous adenosine in the plasma to enhance sweet signals within the taste bud, before reporting to the primary afferent. As we commonly consume caffeine, a powerful antagonist for such receptors, in our daily lives, an intriguing question we sought to answer was whether the caffeine we habitually consume in coffee can inhibit the perception of sweet taste in humans. 107 panelists were randomly assigned to 2 groups, sampling decaffeinated coffee supplemented with either 200 mg of caffeine, about the level found in a strong cup of coffee, or an equally bitter concentration of quinine. Participants subsequently performed sensory testing, with the session repeated in the alternative condition in a second session on a separate day. Panelists rated both the sweetened coffee itself and subsequent sucrose solutions as less sweet in the caffeine condition, despite the treatment having no effect on bitter, sour, salty, or umami perception. Panelists were also unable to discern whether they had consumed the caffeinated or noncaffeinated coffee, with ratings of alertness increased equally, but no significant improvement in reaction times, highlighting coffee’s powerful placebo effect. This work validates earlier observations in rodents in a human population.

Concepts: Coffee, Sense, Taste, Caffeine, Adenosine receptor, Adenosine, Taste bud, Decaffeination

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The large bamboo rat (Rhizomys sumatrensis) is a fossorial rodent found throughout Indochina that has a distinct habitat dominated by bamboo thickets. In the study reported here, the lingual biology of this rodent is described in detail, based on characteristic features of the tongue and lingual papillae as determined by light and scanning electron microscopy studies. The tongue was found to be elongated with a rounded apex and possessed a median groove and a well-developed intermolar prominence. Three types of the papillae were found on the dorsal lingual surface: filiform, fungiform and vallate papillae. The most abundant papillae were the filiform papillae, the majority of which had a wide base and fork-like processes. Rounded fungiform papillae with one to four taste buds were randomly distributed among the filiform papillae, with a high density found at the anterior tongue, particularly the apex. Two oval vallate papillae were observed on the posterior part of the tongue, surrounded by a circumferential groove into which their numerous gustatory pores opened. The lingual radix had no papillae but contained mucus-secreting Weber’s salivary glands. Structural adaptations of the tongue to meet the functional demands of food ingestion and food manipulation in the oral cavity are also discussed.

Concepts: Taste, Tongue, Gustatory system, Taste bud, Filiform papilla, Fungiform papilla, Bamboo rat, Large Bamboo Rat

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For homeostasis, lingual taste papilla organs require regulation of epithelial cell survival and renewal, with sustained innervation and stromal interactions. To investigate a role for Hedgehog/GLI signaling in adult taste organs we used a panel of conditional mouse models to manipulate GLI activity within epithelial cells of the fungiform and circumvallate papillae. Hedgehog signaling suppression rapidly led to taste bud loss, papilla disruption, and decreased proliferation in domains of papilla epithelium that contribute to taste cells. Hedgehog responding cells were eliminated from the epithelium but retained in the papilla stromal core. Despite papilla disruption and loss of taste buds that are a major source of Hedgehog ligand, innervation to taste papillae was maintained, and not misdirected, even after prolonged GLI blockade. Further, vimentin-positive fibroblasts remained in the papilla core. However, retained innervation and stromal cells were not sufficient to maintain taste bud cells in the context of compromised epithelial Hedgehog signaling. Importantly taste organ disruption after GLI blockade was reversible in papillae that retained some taste bud cell remnants where reactivation of Hedgehog signaling led to regeneration of papilla epithelium and taste buds. Therefore, taste bud progenitors were either retained during epithelial GLI blockade or readily repopulated during recovery, and were poised to regenerate taste buds once Hedgehog signaling was restored, with innervation and papilla connective tissue elements in place. Our data argue that Hedgehog signaling is essential for adult tongue tissue maintenance and that taste papilla epithelial cells represent the key targets for physiologic Hedgehog-dependent regulation of taste organ homeostasis. Because disruption of GLI transcriptional activity in taste papilla epithelium is sufficient to drive taste organ loss, similar to pharmacologic Hedgehog pathway inhibition, the findings suggest that taste alterations in cancer patients using systemic Hedgehog pathway inhibitors result principally from interruption of signaling activity in taste papillae.

Concepts: Epithelium, Stomach, Skin, Taste, Connective tissue, Gallbladder, Tongue, Taste bud