Responses of cultured rat trigeminal ganglion neurons to bitter tastants.
The initial steps in taste and olfaction result from the activation by chemical stimuli of taste receptor cells (TRCs) and olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). In parallel with these two pathways is the chemosensitive trigeminal pathway whose neurons terminate in the oral and nasal cavities and which are activated by many of the same chemical stimuli that activate TRCs and ORNs. In a recent single unit study we investigated the responses of rat chorda tympani and glossopharnygeal neurons to a variety of bitter-tasting alkaloids, including nicotine, yohimbine, quinine, strychnine and caffeine, as well as capsaicin, the pungent ingredient in hot pepper. Here we apply many of these same compounds to cultured rat trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons and measure changes in intracellular calcium [Ca2+]i to determine whether TG neurons will respond to these same compounds. Of the 89 neurons tested, 34% responded to 1 mM nicotine, 7% to 1 mM caffeine, 5% to 1 mM denatonium benzoate, 22% to 1 mM quinine hydrochloride, 18% to 1 mM strychnine and 55% to 1 microM capsaicin. These data suggest that neurons from the TG respond to the same bitter-tasting chemical stimuli as do TRCs and are likely to contribute information sent to the higher CNS regarding the perception of bitter/irritating chemical stimuli.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)