Taste is the paramount sense governing which foods are accepted or rejected. It is the final arbiter of what goes into the stomach and what is rejected. We believe this is because the taste of food is, in general, the most important marker of its identity and acceptability. To this point, chemosensory clinical patients who present with taste complaints are twice as likely to report weight loss as those who present with olfactory dysfunction (40% vs. 20%) and enjoy food less. We, therefore, wish to understand the loss and recovery of chemosensory taste function in patients who have iatrogenic taste nerve damage during middle ear surgery. The chorda tympani (CT) nerve, which innervates the taste buds of the anterior two-thirds of the tongue, may be damaged during this surgery. As a clinical problem, the physician is unable to predict for their patient the degree or chemospecificity of their potential taste loss or precisely when normal function will return. From a basic research perspective, the proposed work will investigate the potential for a human cranial nerve and receptor end organs to re-grow and regenerate. A better understanding of a fully regenerating organ and tissue has great potential to help us understand how other human tissues, which do not spontaneously regenerate, may be induced to do so.
The Aims of this proposal are to explore the loss and recovery of taste perception as a function of the type of CT nerve damage that occurs during surgery and the concomitant changes to human taste buds.

Public Health Relevance

Taste is the final arbiter of what is eaten and what is rejected. Patients who present with taste complaints may lose interest in food and body weight. We wish to understand the loss and recovery of taste function in patients who have taste nerve damage during surgery of the middle ear. We will explore the loss and recovery of taste that occurs during surgery and the concomitant changes to human taste buds.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
5R21DC011393-02
Application #
8323983
Study Section
Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
Project Start
2011-09-01
Project End
2014-08-31
Budget Start
2012-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$193,325
Indirect Cost
$14,400
Name
Rutgers University
Department
Nutrition
Type
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
DUNS #
001912864
City
New Brunswick
State
NJ
Country
United States
Zip Code
08901
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Coldwell, Susan E; Mennella, Julie A; Duffy, Valerie B et al. (2013) Gustation assessment using the NIH Toolbox. Neurology 80:S20-4