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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

PROP taster status is related to fat perception and preference.

Individuals who are sensitive to the bitter compound 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) are also more sensitive to selected bitter and sweet substances, to sharp foods and to the trigeminal irritant capsaicin. PROP tasters have a greater density of fungiform papillae, and it is speculated that they also have more trigeminal innervation. Since oral texture perception is also mediated, in part, by trigeminal fibers, it has been proposed that individual differences in fat perception might also be linked to PROP taster status and taste bud density. This work tests the hypothesis that individuals who are PROP tasters: (i) have a higher density of fungiform papillae; (ii) are more sensitive to capsaicin; and (iii) have increased ability to discriminate differences in fat content in salad dressing. Hedonic ratings for the salad dressing were also collected and related to the perceptual judgments. Individual subjects were classified as PROP nontasters, medium tasters or supertasters (n = 25/group) by comparing their psychophysical function for PROP to that of NaCl. Papillae densities (papillae/cm2) were significantly different among the three taster groups (p < 0.0001), and were highest among the supertasters. Both medium tasters and supertasters perceived more oral burn from capsaicin than did nontasters at concentrations of 50, 70 and 100 ppm (p < 0.0001). Medium tasters and supertasters could also discriminate differences in fat content between 40% fat and 10% fat salad dressings (p < 0.005), but the nontasters could not. Although medium and supertasters showed no preference for either dressing, the nontasters preferred the 40% fat sample. The reasons for these latter findings are unclear at present. These data support the hypothesis that fat perception and preference can be linked to genetic and anatomical differences between individuals.[1]


  1. PROP taster status is related to fat perception and preference. Tepper, B.J., Nurse, R.J. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. (1998) [Pubmed]
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