Active ion transport in dog tongue: a possible role in taste

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Science  27 Nov 1981:
Vol. 214, Issue 4524, pp. 1039-1041
DOI: 10.1126/science.7302576


An in vitro preparation of the dorsal epithelium of the dog tongue actively transports ions, producing a transepithelial potential difference characteristic of the ions and their concentration. Hypertonic sodium chloride solutions generally cause increased potentials and short-circuit currents and reduced resistances when placed on the mucosal surface. This hypertonic flux is eliminated by ouabain and is not found in ventral lingual epithelia. When either sodium acetate or tetramethylammonium chloride is substituted for sodium chloride in the mucosal medium, the currents are diminished but their sum at a given concentration approximates that for sodium chloride at the same concentration. This result suggests a current composed of inward sodium ion movement and outward chloride ion movement. Actively regulated potentials and currents, whether generated in the taste buds or in supporting cells, may be important in both normal chemotransduction and in taste responses evoked by currents passing through the tongue.