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From the Tongue to the Gut

Negri, Rossella*; Morini, Gabriella; Greco, Luigi*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: December 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 6 - p 601–605
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182309641
Invited Reviews

ABSTRACT: The physiology of human taste experienced an unprecedented expansion of knowledge brought forward by modern genetics and molecular biology. In the last 10 years, the cellular organization of taste receptors from taste buds distributed in the various papillae of the tongue and the soft palate was enlightened. This molecular revolution rapidly expanded over and above the tongue because several papers reporting the presence of taste receptors in nongustatory tissues (eg, gut, brain) appeared. Hence, the issue of perception of food molecules is no longer confined to the field of nutrition and food preferences, but is rapidly expanding to gastrointestinal (GI) function and, possibly, to gut dysfunction. In children, functional GI diseases are strictly correlated to food preference and food aversion and up to now, the tools to address these kinds of problems were basic nutritional requirements, familial good sense, and a lot of patience: blunt tools to face extremely common and disturbing complaints. The fact that taste receptors are expressed down the whole of the intestinal tract is of particular interest because of their possible role in digestive behavior and absorption of nutrients; therefore, recent and future discoveries in this field will make possible the fine-tuning of new, sharper tools to treat children with functional GI diseases.

*European Laboratory for Food Induced Diseases, University of Naples “Federico II,” Naples

University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo-Bra (CN), Italy.

Address correspondence and reprint request to Rossella Negri, Department of Pediatrics, University of Naples “Federico II,” via Pansini, 5 Naples, Italy (e-mail: rosnegri@unina.it).

Received 31 May, 2011

Accepted 1 August, 2011

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright 2011 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN