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A flavor for fat?

Scientists identify the first candidate taste receptor for lipids in rodents

Stuart Blackman(stuart.blackman@talk21.com)

Stimulation of the fatty acid transporter molecule CD36 with long-chain fatty acids in mouse taste buds induces changes in feeding behavior and gastric physiology, suggesting CD36 could serve as a taste receptor for fat in rodents. The finding, reported in the November 1 issue of the Journal of ClinicalInvestigation, may have implications for the development of obesity and its prevention in humans, experts suggest.

The sense of taste is conventionally depicted as five canonical modalities – sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and "umami" (L-amino acid, described as meaty or savory). Researchers have also recognized receptors for other gustatory stimuli, such as menthol and capsaicin, or chilli.

Still, animals clearly are also drawn to fat, and evidence suggests that this attraction may stem from fat's taste, not just its texture. Philippe Besnard, who led the study at the University of Bourgogne in Dijon, France, told The Scientist that rats and...

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