The Relative Affective Potency of Glycine, L-Serine and Sucrose as Assessed by a Brief-access Taste Test in Inbred Strains of Mice

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Abstract

In general, rodents prefer both sucrose and L-serine relative to water and treat both compounds as possessing a similar taste quality (e.g. ‘sweetness’) despite that they are believed to bind with different T1R heterodimeric receptors in taste bud cells. We assessed the affective potency of these compounds along with glycine, which is thought to bind with both T1R receptor complexes, using a brief-access taste test in a gustometer. Unconditioned licking responses of two ‘taster’ strains (C57BL/6J and SWR/J), which display high preference for low concentrations of sucrose, and two ‘non-taster’ (129P3/J and DBA/2J) strains, which display blunted preference for low concentrations of sucrose, were measured during 5 s trials of varying concentrations of a single compound when mice (n=10/strain/stimulus) were non-deprived and when access to home-cage water was restricted. In non-deprived mice, sucrose generated monotonically increasing concentration–response curves regardless of strain, whereas glycine was only marginally effective at stimulating licking and L-serine produced relatively flat functions. The profile of responsiveness across strains was more complex than expected. For example, when tested with sucrose in the non-deprived condition, the 129P3/J non-taster strain surpassed the responsiveness of taster mice at mid-range to high concentrations. Under water-restricted conditions, these mice also were significantly more responsive to high concentrations of both sucrose and glycine compared with the other strains when stimulus licking was standardized relative to water. Thus, the affective potency of the stimuli tested here seems to be related to the ability of the compounds to bind with the T1R2+3 receptor complex. However, the profile of strain responsiveness to these tastants in the brief-access test does not appear to be simply explained by the sweetener ‘taster’ status of the strain.

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