One scoop or two? It’s tempting to want more when faced with something as moreish as ice cream. However in the context of obesity, ‘more’ is sometimes the only way to feel satiated after a meal. This is partly because obesity reduces a person’s ability to taste; a situation in which inflammation is implicated. Researchers have now investigated this in mice. Mice were fed a normal or high fat diet. Those on a high fat diet became obese and showed higher levels of an inflammatory substance called TNFalpha in their taste buds. Imaging taste buds (pictured, red) under a microscope revealed fewer present in obese mice (right) compared with normal mice (left) and less cell division (green). Cell division is needed to renew taste buds, which wear out over time. Persistent inflammation therefore disrupts taste bud renewal, which may explain why the ability to taste is diminished in obese people.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
- Image from work by Andrew Kaufman and colleagues
- Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
- Image originally published under a Creative Commons Licence (BY 4.0)
- Published in PLOS Biology, March 2018