On the relationship between sweet taste and seasonal body weight changes in a primate (Microcebus murinus)

G. Hellekant, C. M. Hladik, V. Dennys, B. Simmen, T. W. Roberts, D. Glaser

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The relationship between obesity and taste, especially sweet taste, has been and is of interest. From this point of view of a small primate, the lesser mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), is of particular interest. It goes through a yearly cycle of physiological changes, one of which is an extreme variation in body weight of up to 100%. This occurs concomitantly with significant changes of the animal's liking for sucrose; measured by two-bottle preference tests, the threshold for sucrose changes from 28-45 in lean to 77-105 mM in obese animals. It is possible that a change in peripheral taste sensitivity might be the cause for these preference changes. To test this possibility we studied the ability of M.murinus to taste sucrose with electrophysiological and conditioned taste aversion techniques. The electrophysiological recordings were obtained from the chorda tympani proper nerve in two heavy and three lean animals. We did not record any difference between the two groups in their neural response to a series of sucrose concentrations. Conditioned taste aversion experiments with 200 mM sucrose as conditioning stimulus and 50 and 200 mM sucrose as test stimuli gave similar results. No difference was found between three heavy and four lean animals; both groups rejected the sucrose concentrations. The results support the notion that the seasonal variations in preference threshold to sucrose were unrelated to the ability of M.murinus to taste sucrose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1993


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