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Fructose-Tasting Pancreas

March 6, 2012

Taste receptors on the pancreas may enable fructose sweeteners to boost obesity.



An internal organ’s sweet tooth.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Taste receptors have been found not only on the tongue, but in the gut and brain as well.  But it’s those on the pancreas that interest diabetes and obesity researcher Bjorn Tyrberg of the Sanford-Burnham Institute in Florida.  He and his colleagues found that the sugar fructose, found in corn sweeteners, binds to the pancreas and boosts insulin secretion.  The effect amplifies that of glucose, the main sugar in biological processes.

BJORN TYRBERG (Sanford-Burham Medical Research Institute):

It’s possible that fructose directly goes to the pancreas and has effects on insulin secretion that we didn’t know.

Further research could determine whether corn sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup, play a special role in diabetes and obesity.  It could also lead to new drugs that could treat or prevent those conditions.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.