Thirst increases chorda tympani responses to sodium chloride
In nature, water is present as a low-salt solution, thus we hypothesized that thirst would increase taste responses to low-salt solutions. We investigated the effect of thirst on the 2 different salt detection mechanisms present in the rat chorda tympani (CT) nerve. The first mechanism is dependent upon the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC), is blocked by benzamil, and is specific to the cation sodium. The second mechanism, while undefined, is independent of ENaC, and detects multiple cations. We expected thirst to increase benzamil-sensitive sodium responses due to mechanistically increasing the benzamil-sensitive ENaC. We recorded CT whole-nerve electrophysiological responses to lingual application of NaCl, KCl (30, 75, 150, 300, 500, and 600 mM), and imitation rainwater in both control and 24-h water-restricted male rats. NaCl solutions were presented in artificial saliva before and after lingual application of 5μM benzamil. Water restriction significantly increased the integrated CT responses to NaCl but not to KCl or imitation rainwater. Consistent with our hypothesis, only the benzamil-sensitive, and not the benzamil-insensitive, CT sodium response significantly increased. Additionally, CT responses to salt were recorded following induction of either osmotic or volemic thirst. Both thirsts significantly enhanced the integrated CT responses to NaCl and KCl, but not imitation rainwater. Interestingly, osmotic and volemic thirsts increased CT responses by increasing both the benzamil-sensitive and benzamil-insensitive CT sodium responses. We propose that thirst increases the sensitivity of the CT nerve to sodium.
Link to Published Version
Mast, T. G., Breza, J. M., & Contreras, R. J. (2017). Thirst increases chorda tympani responses to sodium chloride. Chemical Senses, 42(8), 675–681. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjx052