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Receptor for tasting fat identified in humans
Date:1/12/2012

et they eat."

Our diet contains fat, mainly in the form of triglycerides, which are made of fatty acids linked to glyerol. In the tast test, the researchers presented subjects with two types of fat. Some cups contained a free fatty acid. Others contained triglyerides.

Pepino and Abumrad knew from animal studies that CD36 is activated by fatty acids but not triglycerides. Human subjects, however, were able to taste both. Pepino believes that's probably due to the activity of an enzyme called lipase in the saliva that breaks the triglycerides, releasing the fatty acids while the fat is still in the mouth.

"Rats, for example, can produce salivary lipase, and the lipase quickly will begin to digest the triglyceride and convert it into a fatty acid," she explains. "In humans, the role of lipase hasn't been as clear. In our experiments, people could detect fat whether it was a triglyceride or a fatty acid."

But when the researchers added the diet drug orlistat, subjects could still taste the fatty acids but were less able to detect the triglycerides. Orlistat inhibits lipase in the mouth, stomach and intestine and is often prescribed to people who are obese to prevent them from absorbing fat in foods.

"Orlistat made it more difficult for people to taste fat," Pepino says. "The solution had to contain higher amounts of triglyceride before they could detect fat. With free fatty acid, however, there was no difference."


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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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