Influences of dietary sodium on functional taste receptor development: a sensitive period

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Science  30 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4874, pp. 1826-1828
DOI: 10.1126/science.3175625


Restriction of maternal dietary sodium on or before embryonic day 8 reduced taste responses of the chorda tympani nerve to sodium chloride in the offspring. The response attenuation was substantial; responses to sodium chloride in the offspring of deprived rats were approximately 40 percent of those in control animals. Instituting the low sodium diet at embryonic day 10 or later did not produce functional changes. Thus, a sensitive period for the gustatory system exists, and the abrupt transition from maximal environmental susceptibility to no susceptibility occurs during a 2-day prenatal period. Moreover, events important in determining the developmental fate of taste membrane components occur before the initial formation of taste buds.