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Salt & Sour Taste Receptors

July 21, 2017

Identifying receptors for salty and sour tastes could have a positive impact on health.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Sour and salty science. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Receptors on our tongues allow us to perceive a variety of flavors in the foods we eat. And while scientists have identified those responsible for sweet, bitter, and umami tastes, the receptors for salty and sour tastes still remain elusive. But according to molecular neurobiologist Peihua Jiang of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, there’s an especially urgent need to identify the taste receptor for salt.

PEIHUA JIANG (Monell Chemical Senses Center):

People tend to eat salty food, associated with metabolic disorders, so if we can find the receptor, then we trick the receptor using salt enhancer, that way we c an probably reduce the intake of the salt.

HIRSHON:

…much like the way artificial sweeteners trick the brain into thinking we’ve eaten actual sugar. Jiang’s team describes the search for sour and salty taste receptors in the journal Scientific Reports. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard