The University of Queensland School of Biomedical Sciences has published a study, in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, revealing that researchers were able to observe the presence of taste receptors normally found in the nose and mouth in the human heart. The study was conducted by Dr. Simon Foster.
“Dr Foster was able to show that around 12 taste receptors, particularly those that respond to bitter compounds, were expressed in human hearts,” Professor Thomas said. Professor Walter Thomas is the head of the school and the research team leader.
“This is quite remarkable, as the human genome only has 25 of these bitter taste receptors, and we wanted to find out why half of them were located in the heart. said Prof. Thomas .“When we activated one of the taste receptors with a specific chemical that we all taste as bitter, the contractile function of the heart was almost completely inhibited.“While the underlying physiology behind this phenomenon remains unclear, this is now a major area of ongoing investigation.”
The study team examined human hearts, (obtained from valve replacement and coronary arterial bypass medical procedures), obtained from Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. The researchers replicated the mouse lab experiments and determined that taste receptors were also present in the human heart.
A second study investigated the impact of epigenetics on heart taste receptors by exposing mothers to a high fat diet. The results specify that few bitter taste receptors were found in cardiac tissue obtained from the offspring of obese mothers.
Baby rats whose mothers were fed a high-fat diet had larger than normal hearts with fewer receptors linked to the regulation of blood pressure and cardiac activity.
“We know that a range of maternal factors including diet can influence fetal development, but this is the first study to examine changes in the expression of taste receptors in the heart,” said Pharmacology Professor Margaret Morris.
“This may be an important finding linking taste preferences or nutrient availability and cardiovascular health.”
M. Raipuria, G.O. Hardy, H. Bahari, M.J. Morris. Maternal obesity regulates gene expression in the hearts of offspring. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.numecd.2015.05.011