Neuromodulation of transduction and signal processing in the end organs of taste

T. Nagai, D. J. Kim, R. J. Delay, S. D. Roper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical synapses transmit gustatory signals from taste receptor cells to sensory afferent axons. Chemical (and electrical) synapses also provide a lateral pathway for cells within the taste bud to communicate. Lateral synaptic pathways may represent some form of signal processing in the peripheral end organs of taste. Efferent synaptic input may also regulate sensory transduction in taste buds. To date, the synaptic neurotransmitter(s) or neuromodulator(s) released at chemical synapses in taste buds have not been identified unambiguously. This paper summarizes the attempts that have been made over the past 40 years to identify the neuroactive substances acting at taste bud synapses. We review the four traditional criteria for identifying chemical transmitters elsewhere in the nervous system-localization, uptake/degradation, release and physiological actions - and apply these criteria to neuroactive substances in taste buds. The most complete evidence to date implicates serotonin as a neuromodulator of taste transduction in the end organs. However, studies also suggest that adrenergic, cholinergic and peptidergic neurotransmission may be involved in taste buds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-365
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Jun
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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