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Chemical Senses
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 34  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 373 - 382

Human Salt Taste and the Lingual Surface Potential Correlate

G. M Feldman, G. L Heck and N. L. Smith    


We have demonstrated in humans that Na+ evokes changes in the lingual surface potential (LSP) using a custom chamber. To assess whether a relationship exists between the Na+-evoked changes in the LSP and the intensity of salt taste, we measured the LSP and the intensity of salt taste simultaneously in 7 subjects using test solutions (50, 100, 300, and 1000 mM NaCl) presented in random order. The evoked LSPs and intensity scores correlated with one another well (r2 = 0.992, P < 0.01). We then screened 14 subjects for their ability to discriminate between 100 and 300 mM NaCl using the chamber. Three subjects were consistently capable of distinguishing the salt concentrations. In these 3 subjects, an inhibitor of the epithelial sodium channel, amiloride (10 µM), blocked the ability to distinguish salt concentrations and affected the LSP. These data suggest that the LSP may be a component of the signal transduction system involved in human salt taste. In adept salt tasters, an amiloride-sensitive mechanism appears to have a role in distinguishing salt concentrations.

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