The distribution of fungiform papillae density and associated factors were examined in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study. Data were from 2371 participants (mean age = 48.8 years, range = 21-84 years) with 1108 males and 1263 females. Fungiform papillae were highlighted with blue food coloring and the number of fungiform papillae within a standard 6-mm circle was counted. Whole mouth suprathreshold taste intensity was measured. The mean fungiform papillae density was 103.5 papillae/cm2 (range = 0-212.2 papillae/cm2). For each 5-year increase in age, the mean fungiform papillae density was 2.8 papillae/cm2 lower and the mean density for males was 10.2 papillae/cm2 lower than for females. Smokers had significantly lower mean densities (former smokers: -5.1 papillae/cm2; current smokers: -9.3 papillae/cm2) than nonsmokers, and heavy alcohol drinkers had a mean density that was 4.7 papillae/cm2 lower than nonheavy drinkers. Solvent exposure was related to a significantly higher density (+6.8 papillae/cm2). The heritability estimate for fungiform papillae density was 40.2%. Propylthiouracil taster status, TAS2R38 haplotype, and perceived taste intensity were not related to density. In summary, wide variability in fungiform papillae density was observed and a number of related factors were found including the modifiable factors of smoking and alcohol consumption.
- Fungiform papillae