Long-term zinc deficiency decreases taste sensitivity in rats

Tomoko Goto, Michio Komai, Hitoshi Suzuki, Yuji Furukawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of zinc deficiency on taste sensitivity were examined in rats by recording the electrophysiological responses of the chorda tympani (CT) nerve and by use of a preference test. Male 4-wk-old Sprague-Dawley rats were given free access to a diet containing 2.2 (zinc-deficient), 4.1 (low zinc) or 33.7 (zinc-sufficient) mg zinc/kg diet. A fourth group was pair-fed the zinc-sufficient diet (with respect to zinc-deficient rats). A two-bottle preference test using 0.15 mol/L NaCl and water revealed that NaCl preference was greater in the zinc-deficient and low zinc groups than in the control groups (zinc-sufficient and pair-fed) after 4 d of feeding. In the case of quinine hydrochloride solution (0.01 mmol/L), the preference was greater in zinc-deficient rats than in the other groups after 9 d, and the low zinc rats never showed a preference. Electrophysiological recording indicated that in the zinc-deficient rats, the CT nerve response to 0.20 mol/L NaCl was significantly less than that in the control rats after 21 d of feeding. In the low zinc rats, this response was significantly less than in the control rats after 35 d. The responses to quinine hydrochloride (0.02 mol/L), L-glutamic acid, HCl (0.01 mol/L) and NH4Cl (0.25 mol/L) in the zinc-deficient rats were not significantly reduced until d 42. These findings suggest that long-term zinc deficiency decreases taste sensitivity at the level of the CT nerve and that the change in NaCl preference due to zinc deficiency occurs before any change in NaCl taste sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-310
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Chorda tympani nerve
  • NaCl preference
  • Rats
  • Taste abnormality
  • Zinc deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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