Sense of taste in a New World monkey, the common marmoset: Recordings from the chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal nerves

Vicktoria Danilova, Yuri Danilov, Thomas Roberts, Jean Marie Tinti, Claude Nofre, Göran Hellekant

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Whole nerve, as well as single fiber, responses in the chorda tympani proper (CT) and glossopharyngeal (NG) nerves of common marmosets were recorded during taste stimulation with three salts, four acids, six bitter compounds and more than 30 sweeteners. We recorded responses of 49 CT and 41 NG taste fibers. The hierarchical cluster analysis distinguished three major clusters in both CT and NG: S, Q, and H. The SCT fibers, 38% of all CT fibers, responded only to sweeteners. The SCT fibers did not respond during stimulation with salts, acids, and bitter compounds but exhibited OFF responses after citric and ascorbic acids, quinine hydrochloride (QHCl), and salts (in 80% of SCT fibers). SNG fibers, 50% of all NG fibers, also responded to sweeteners but not to stimuli of other taste qualities (except for citric acid, which stimulated 70% of the SNG fibers). Some sweeteners, including natural (the sweet proteins brazzein, monellin) and artificial [cyclamate, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone (NHDHC), N-3,5-dichlorophenyl-N′-(S)-a-methylbenzyl-guanidineacetate (DMGA), N-4-cyanophenylcarbamoyl-(R,S)-3-amino-3-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl) propionic acid (CAMPA)] did not elicit responses in the S fibers. In general, the response profiles of the SCT and SNG clusters were very similar, the correlation coefficient between the responses to sweeteners in these clusters was 0.94. Both the QCT and the QNG fibers (40 and 46% of all fibers) were predominantly responsive to bitter compounds, although their responses to the same set of bitter compounds were quite different. Sweeteners with sweet/bitter taste for humans also stimulated the Q clusters. The H clusters (22 and 3% of all fibers) were predominantly responsive to acids and did not respond to stimuli of other taste qualities. However, bitter stimuli, mainly QHCl, inhibited activity in 70% of HCT fibers. Among a total of 90 fibers from both nerves there was only 1 NaCl-best fiber in CT. We found, however, that 35% of the CT fibers reacted to salts with inhibition of activity during stimulation, followed by an OFF response. This OFF response was diminished or eliminated by amiloride. These characteristics indicate that amiloride-sensitive sodium channels are involved in salt transduction in marmosets. In the two NG fibers responding to NaCl, we recorded neither suppression by amiloride nor OFF responses. Comparison of marmoset data with those of other nonhuman primates studied, rhesus and chimpanzee, demonstrates phylogenetic trends in the organization of taste system. This can help to uncover pathways of primate evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-594
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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