There is good evidence indicating that ion-transport pathways in the apical regions of lingual epithelial cells, including taste bud cells, may play a role in salt taste reception. In this article, we present evidence that, in the case of the dog, there also exists a sugar-activated ion-transport pathway that is linked to sugar taste transduction. Evidence was drawn from two parallel lines of experiments: (a) ion-transport studies on the isolated canine lingual epithelium, and (b) recordings from the canine chorda tympani. The results in vitro showed that both mono- and disaccharides in the mucosal bath stimulate a dose-dependent increase in the short-circuit current over the concentration range coincident with mammalian sugar taste responses. Transepithelial current evoked by glucose, fructose, or sucrose in either 30 mM NaCl or in Krebs-Henseleit buffer (K-H) was partially blocked by amiloride. Among current carriers activated by saccharides, the current response was greater with Na than with K. Ion flux measurements in K-H during stimulation with 3-O-methylglucose showed that the sugar-evoked current was due to an increase in the Na influx. Ouabain or amiloride reduced the sugar-evoked Na influx without effect on sugar transport as measured with tritiated 3-O-methylglucose. Amiloride inhibited the canine chorda tympani response to 0.5 M NaCl by 70-80% and the response to 0.5 M KCl by approximately 40%. This agreed with the percent inhibition by amiloride of the short-circuit current supported in vitro by NaCl and KCl. Amiloride also partially inhibited the chorda tympani responses to sucrose and to fructose. The results indicate that in the dog: (a) the ion transporter subserving Na taste also subserves part of the response to K, and (b) a sugar-activated, Na-preferring ion-transport system is one mechanism mediating sugar taste transduction. Results in the literature indicate a similar sweet taste mechanism for humans.

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