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Obesity and taste bud loss: a phenomena that you need to know

Stem cells exhibit lipid droplet accumulation during differentiation, closely mimicking the fat cell (adipocyte) (DDC)

It's been a while since my last blog post, and recently, I had no idea what to write and post on this blog.  But I think this can be a good topic to discuss. During my second year of Ph.D. study, I took the 'Special Lecture for Intractable Disease Control and Drug Delivery course', as it is required to complete my Ph.D. study. Since I am currently studying some underlying mechanisms of adipocyte development and trying to find some potential therapy for obesity, I chose to discuss the article below, about the reduction of the taste buds in the inflammation state of obesity. You may have heard before that obesity is a state of low-grade chronic inflammation, and it causes multiple metabolic diseases

This is a known fact that obese individuals display a weak sense of taste and are suggested to be driven to consume more calories to acquire taste satisfaction. The study conducted by Kaufman’s group (2018) revealed that the state of obesity affects taste buds. In the study, high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice turn to become obese and exhibited taste bud loss compared to the standard diet-fed littermates. Regarding the increasing of adiposity in HFD-fed mice, the TNFα expression level in taste tissues was increased and supported by the altered expression of TNF receptors 1 and 2 with no significant change for other markers at 8 weeks of HFD feeding treatment. Interestingly, obese mice exhibit a significant reduction in the taste bud’s abundance with no change in its size, as well as the loss of the taste stem and progenitor cells. Moreover, HFD induces adipogenesis in TNFα-null mice, demonstrating the absence of TNFα, is not resulting in obesity, and causes loss of taste buds or proliferative ability. It suggests that the taste dysfunction in a state of obesity is a result of systemic inflammation. The evaluation of the taste bud’s abundance, proliferative capacity, and inflammatory response in obesity-resistant mice which are treated with HFD confirms that the metabolic effects of obesity trigger a taste loss and are not caused by oral exposure to a fatty diet. This study revealed the correlation between taste and the genesis of obesity, promoting novel therapeutic targets in the reduction of taste dysfunction in obese populations. 

This post is just a very short summary, but if you want to read more, please just check their research paper: Kaufman A, Choo E, Koh A, Dando R. 2018. Inflammation arising from obesity reduces taste bud abundance and inhibits renewal. PLoS Biol 16(3):e2001959. DOI: 10.1371/ journal.pbio.2001959. Thank you for reading my blog!

Veterinary anatomist | School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, IPB University

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