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Fat Receptors

February 2, 2012

A protein found in our tongues determines our ability to taste fat.



Tasting pure fat.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Our tongues may have dedicated fat receptors, like they do for tastes like sweet and salty.  This according to nutritional scientist Yanina Pepino of the Washington University School of Medicine.  She says a protein called CD36 has been linked to fat detection in animals.  In her study, humans with different natural levels of CD36 tried to detect traces of oil in a beverage.

YANINA PEPINO (Washington University School of Medicine):

So we found that the more CD36 protein a person made, the more sensitive it was to the presence of fat, based on taste.


The CD36 protein has already been found in human taste buds.  So it’s possible that some taste receptors are devoted to finding fat.  It’s also known that rats on a high-fat diet decrease their production of CD36, which means it takes more and more fat to satisfy their taste for it.  The findings may eventually lead to interventions for obesity.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.