Chemical senses

A brief-access test for bitter taste in mice.

PMID 11839611


Inbred mouse strains vary in their response to bitter-tasting compounds as assessed by 48 h preference tests. These differences are generally assumed to result from altered gustatory function, although such long-term tests could easily reflect additional factors. We developed a brief-access taste test and tested the responses of two inbred strains, as well as C3. SW congenic mice, to the bitter stimulus sucrose octaacetate (SOA). Water-deprived trained mice were tested with five concentrations of SOA (0.00018-0.18 mM) and distilled water in a Davis MS- 160 apparatus. Trials were 5 s in duration and stimuli were presented randomly within blocks; each stimulus trial was preceded by a water rinse trial. Each concentration was presented twice in a session and mice were repeatedly tested across consecutive days. SOA-taster mice, including the SWR/J (SW) inbred and C3. SW congenic taster (T) mice, avoided licking SOA at concentrations >0.003 mM. In comparison, C3HeB/FeJ (C3) and C3. SW demitaster mice (D) licked all concentrations at the same rate as water. Concentration-response functions were similar across strains for both the brief-access test and a parallel 48 h preference test run on separate groups of mice. Furthermore, concentration-response functions were similar whether or not the brief-access test was preceded by a 4 day, single concentration pretest with SOA. The brief-access test is a suitable assay for bitter taste function in mice because it minimizes possible post-ingestive influences on taste.