Researchers find bitter taste receptors on human hearts

Heart diagram. Credit: Wikipedia

A team of University of Queensland researchers is investigating the surprising discovery that smell and taste receptors normally found in the nose and mouth can also be present on the human heart.

The School of Biomedical Sciences team was able to observe the presence of the receptors as part of their ongoing research into the growth of human hearts during disease.

Research team leader and Head of the School Professor Walter Thomas said the team would investigate the phenomenon, which was originally discovered by former UQ PhD student Dr Simon Foster. Dr Foster's findings are published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

"Dr Foster was able to show that around 12 , particularly those that respond to bitter compounds, were expressed in human hearts," Professor Thomas said.

"This is quite remarkable, as the human genome only has 25 of these , and we wanted to find out why half of them were located in the heart.

"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 research team's primary focus is on is how the heart grows normally as well as abnormally in disease.

"After hypertension or a heart attack, the heart frequently undergoes compensatory growth in order to maintain the circulation of blood around the body," Professor Thomas said.

"But a common end result of this compensatory growth is eventual heart failure, a major cause of death in Australia.

"During laboratory tests, we were looking at all the genes that are regulated in the heart in this growth phase.

"We found the rodent heart cells we were working with contained smell and taste receptors, which are normally considered to be only present in the nose and mouth."

Professor Thomas said the project progressed from animal studies to human investigations through collaborations with the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane.

"Using heart tissue from humans undergoing surgery, such as valve replacement and coronary arterial bypass, we replicated the rodent laboratory experiments and found taste receptors were also present in the ," he said.

Explore further

Immune system protein regulates sensitivity to bitter taste

More information: "Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart." FASEB J. 2014 Oct;28(10):4497-508. DOI: 10.1096/fj.14-256305
Journal information: FASEB Journal

Citation: Researchers find bitter taste receptors on human hearts (2015, May 4) retrieved 15 October 2019 from
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May 04, 2015
I wonder if this is the mechanism for that heart sensation I get when I think a really sad thought about myself or someone else and I'm already feeling depressed. Almost like the exact opposite of a "happy" heart flutter. When I was younger, I used to think it was my heart trying to stop itself. It's not painful. Just a brief <1 second sensation that accompanies the painful thoughts, followed by a mild feeling of having to re-sync my breathing.

May 04, 2015
Behavior is receptor-mediated, which explains why researchers are:

Finding odor and taste receptors everywhere

Excerpt: "If not for the anti-entropic epigenetic effects of nutrient-dependent microRNAs, virus driven entropic elasticity would lead to the extinction of life on this planet via viral microRNAs that perturb the biophysically constrained chemistry of nutrient-dependent RNA-mediated cell type differentiation. Claims that epigenetics is the second dimension of evolution are ridiculous in the context of what is known about biologically-based cause and effect."

May 04, 2015
There he goes again. JVK quoting himself.

May 04, 2015
Complementing the Genome with an "Exposome": The Outstanding Challenge of Environmental Exposure Measurement in Molecular Epidemiology http://www.ncbi.n...16103423

Excerpt: "...extension of the current generation of biomarkers, together with an evaluation of the new generation of "omics" technologies, has a crucial role to play in this regard (35). However, advances will require increasing collaboration between epidemiologists, biostatisticians, experts in bioinformatics, and laboratory and environmental scientists."

I am a medical laboratory scientist who has linked the experience-dependent de novo creation of odor receptors and RNA-mediated cell type differentition in species from microbes to man. Who else should I cite or quote?

May 04, 2015

You HAVE to quote yourself because no one is buying what you're selling---except the pathetic fools buying you "perfume".

May 05, 2015
The other anonymous fools are gone. Good riddance to Captain Stumpy and Anonymous_9001

If the moderators will block comments from Vietvet (aka Stephen Taylor), intelligent discussion might be the result.



May 05, 2015
Gone? Nope, still here.

May 05, 2015
The other anonymous fools are gone. Good riddance to Captain Stumpy and Anonymous_9001

Neither have been banned and they aren't gone. You can look forward to them both pointing out, as they have so admirably in the past, the fallacy of your arguments.

May 05, 2015
Per Science Mission:

"Histone helps suppress jumping genes

A family of proteins known as histones provides support and structure to DNA.

Oddball H3.3 varies from its regular counterpart H3 by only few amino acids and its specific biological role is not known.

Authors in the journal Nature found that H3.3 appeared at a certain type of repetitive sequence: retrotransposons, which are leftovers from ancient viral infections.

Retrotransposons can still copy themselves, jump to new locations and cause harmful mutations. Histone H3.3 binds to retrotransposons, silences it and prevents chromosomal abnormalities,"


See also: The activity-dependent histone variant H2BE modulates the life span of olfactory neurons http://elife.elif...1/e00070

May 10, 2015
JVK Whether you are an undiscovered Genius or merely a dull troll matters not a whit. Repeating the same message over and over wins you nought but scorn.

May 10, 2015
Repeating the same message over and over wins you nought but scorn.

Why hasn't repeating the same pseudoscientific nonsense about mutations and evolution done that for biologically uninformed science idiots who have been killing people with their ridiculous theorists for nearly a century since neo-Darwinism was invented?

anonymous_9001 is still here. Perhaps he can tell us more about the benefits of killing people with theory compared to making scientific progress based on facts about biologically based cause and effect.

Whether you are an undiscovered Genius or merely a dull troll...

That's an interesting comparison considering my membership in Mensa and my publication history -- with award-winning reviews in neuroscience and social science. Do you know any dull trolls with award-winning published works who are members of Mensa?

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