Journal of food science

Genetic influences on oral fat perception and preference: Presented at the symposium "The Taste for Fat: New Discoveries on the Role of Fat in Sensory Perception, Metabolism, Sensory Pleasure and Beyond" held at the Institute of Food Technologists 2011 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, June 12, 2011.

PMID 22384968


Research suggests that dietary fat is perceived not only by texture, but also by taste. However, the receptors for chemosensory response to fat have not been identified. We report on 2 genes,TAS2R38 and CD36, that may play a role in fat perception and preference in humans. TAS2R38 is a taste receptor for bitter thiourea compounds, including 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) and phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). Nontasters of these compounds tend to be poor at discriminating fat in foods, even though they prefer higher fat versions of these foods. CD36, a fatty acid translocase expressed on multiple cell types including taste cells, plays a critical role in fat preferences in animals. In studies conducted in our laboratory with African-American adults, we identified a variant in the CD36 gene, rs1761667, that predicts oral responses to fat. Individuals who have the A/A genotype at this site tend to find Italian salad dressings creamier than those who have other genotypes at this site. In addition, A/A individuals report higher preferences for added fats, oils, and spreads (for example margarine). Assuming these data are confirmed in other populations, screening for CD36 genotype may provide helpful information to food companies for developing fat-modified products.