The sense of taste plays critical roles in nutrient identification and toxin avoidance. The ability to respond to hypoosmotic stimuli in mammalian taste receptor cells may reflect the importance of osmotic sensing by the gustatory system. Transduction for hypoosmotic stimuli involves water influx through aquaporins followed by activation of volume-regulated anion channels. The ability of these transduction elements to be regulated by natriferic hormones at the mRNA and protein level in other transporting epithelia suggest that the gustatory system may respond to extrinsic signals related to the restoration of salt and water balance. Plasticity in the peripheral gustatory system is consistent with the activity in the taste system being reflective of underlying nutritional status. Clearly, more research is needed to determine the link between nutrition, taste and the control of food and water intake.

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