Autoimmune Diseases and Taste
Findings Reported on The Impact Of Autoimmune Diseases On Taste
Scientists supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health, will be presenting their latest research findings at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS).
New Findings Suggest Novel Avenues to Explore Taste Loss in Autoimmune Diseases
Reduced taste sensitivity is a common symptom of autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren's syndrome and lupus, and it can have a negative impact on a person's nutrition. Taste sensitivity waxes and wanes along with other disease symptoms, but the mechanism by which inflammation could contribute to the loss of taste remains largely unknown. NIDCD-funded researcher Hong Wang, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, have used a mouse strain (MRL/lpr) that models lupus in humans to explore the effects of chronic inflammation on taste tissues. The investigators noted increased levels of inflammation-promoting immune system cells in the tongue tissue of MRL/lpr mice in association with lower expression levels of markers for Type II taste cells. (Type II taste cells reside within the taste buds and are responsive to sweet, bitter, and umami, or savory, flavors.) Taste buds appeared smaller in the MRL/lpr mice than in the control mice. In tasting tests, the MRL/lpr mice showed decreased responsiveness to bitter, sweet, and umami flavors, but responded normally to salty and sour flavors. The research provides new evidence linking autoimmune disease and chronic inflammation to selective changes in the structure and function of taste tissues in the tongue. These findings offer opportunities for further explorations that have the potential to improve nutrition in people with chronic autoimmune disorders.
Source: Medical News Today April 2011