Multiple routes of chemosensitivity to free fatty acids in humans

Chalé-Rush, Angela, Burgess, John R. and Mattes, Richard D. (2007) Multiple routes of chemosensitivity to free fatty acids in humans. American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 292(5), G1206-G1212. ISSN (print) 0193-1857


Selected free fatty acids (FFAs) are documented effective somatosensory and olfactory stimuli whereas gustatory effects are less well established. This study examined orthonasal olfactory, retronasal olfactory, nasal irritancy, oral irritancy, gustatory, and multimodal threshold sensitivity to linoleic, oleic, and stearic acids. Sensitivity to oxidized linoleic acid was also determined. Detection thresholds were obtained using a three-alternative, forced-choice, ascending concentration presentation procedure. Participants included 22 healthy, physically fit adults sensitive to 6-n-propylthiouracil. Measurable thresholds were obtained for all FFAs tested and in 96% of the trials. Ceiling effects were observed in the remaining trials. Greater sensitivity was observed for multimodal stimulation and lower sensitivity for retronasal stimulation. There were no statistically significant correlations for linoleic acid thresholds between different modalities, suggesting that each route of stimulation contributes independently to fat perception. In summary, 18-carbon FFAs of varying saturation are detected by multiple sensory systems in humans.

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