Taste plays a central role in clinical medicine and is crucial for pediatric patients because the unpleasant taste of drugs thwarts the benefits of even the most powerful drug. For two reasons, pediatric medications are particularly problematic. First, children often cannot or will not swallow pills or tablets (which encapsulates the inherently bitter tasting medications). Second, their enhanced (relative to adults) sensitivity to bitterness leads them to strongly reject bitter liquid medicines. We propose experimental studies applying recent scientific advances in bitter taste biology which have identified compounds that may interfere with bitter perception by taste receptor cells, to determine: (1) the effectiveness of these bitter blockers in children and adults for different model bitter compounds and (2) how age and genetic variation affects the efficacy of the bitter blockers.

Public Health Relevance

Completion of this research project will lead to a better understanding of the how to ameliorate bitter tastes. It addresses a public health priority by 1) supporting efforts aimed at formulating better tasting pediatric medications, thus helping children avoid the serious health consequences from refusing to take medications;and 2) providing a framework and database using appropriate psychophysical testing procedures, model bitter compounds and currently identified bitter blockers, which will facilitate future clinical studies in which specific drugs can be compared and novel bitter blockers can be evaluated.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01DC011287-03
Application #
8402095
Study Section
Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
Project Start
2011-01-01
Project End
2015-12-31
Budget Start
2013-01-01
Budget End
2013-12-31
Support Year
3
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$301,124
Indirect Cost
$99,249
Name
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Department
Type
DUNS #
088812565
City
Philadelphia
State
PA
Country
United States
Zip Code
19104
Mennella, Julie A; Reed, Danielle R; Roberts, Kristi M et al. (2014) Age-related differences in bitter taste and efficacy of bitter blockers. PLoS One 9:e103107
Mennella, Julie A; Finkbeiner, Susana; Lipchock, Sarah V et al. (2014) Preferences for salty and sweet tastes are elevated and related to each other during childhood. PLoS One 9:e92201
Mennella, Julie A; Spector, Alan C; Reed, Danielle R et al. (2013) The bad taste of medicines: overview of basic research on bitter taste. Clin Ther 35:1225-46
Coldwell, Susan E; Mennella, Julie A; Duffy, Valerie B et al. (2013) Gustation assessment using the NIH Toolbox. Neurology 80:S20-4
Lipchock, Sarah V; Mennella, Julie A; Spielman, Andrew I et al. (2013) Human bitter perception correlates with bitter receptor messenger RNA expression in taste cells. Am J Clin Nutr 98:1136-43
Lipchock, Sarah V; Reed, Danielle R; Mennella, Julie A (2012) Relationship between bitter-taste receptor genotype and solid medication formulation usage among young children: a retrospective analysis. Clin Ther 34:728-33
Pepino, M Yanina; Mennella, Julie A (2012) Habituation to the pleasure elicited by sweetness in lean and obese women. Appetite 58:800-5
Ventura, Alison K; Mennella, Julie A (2011) Innate and learned preferences for sweet taste during childhood. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 14:379-84