Effective salt replacer a step closer
In a major step towards developing successful salt replacers or enhancers, researchers have shed new light on the identity and functionality of...
New York: In a major step towards developing successful salt replacers or enhancers, researchers have shed new light on the identity and functionality of salt-responding taste cells on the tongue. Public health efforts to reduce dietary sodium intake have been hindered by an incomplete understanding of the complex process by which humans and other mammals detect salty taste, the study pointed out.
'Salt' is a chemical term that describes a compound made of positively and negatively charged ions; the most well-known example is sodium chloride (NaCl). The primary process by which mammals detect NaCl, common table salt, is well understood, and occurs via a sodium receptor known as ENaC (epithelial sodium channel).
The ENaC receptor responds almost exclusively to sodium salts and is not influenced by the salt's negative ion. However, scientists know that a second salt-sensing receptor also exists, but much about this receptor, including its identity, remains unknown.
In the current study, researchers identified the taste cells involved in this second salt taste mechanism and increased understanding of how they function.