Sweet taste receptors can help body fight off sinus infections

fight off sinus infections

sweet taste receptors

Bitter taste receptors in the upper airway are a first line of defense against sinus infections. Their ability to kill harmful toxins and pathogens when the sweet taste receptors stimulated. While glucose and other sugars are known to trigger these sweet taste receptors.

Now, researchers have shown amino acids can also have that effect. This new understanding could help pave the way toward new treatments for chronic sinus infections.

Rhinosinusitis, the clinical name of chronic sinus infections. It affects nearly 35 million Americans each year and people across the country spends more than $8 billion on health care costs.

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Previous Penn research suggests that a novel way to treat these infections involve manipulating the nasal bitter and sweet taste receptors. Bitter receptors release small proteins called antimicrobial peptides which kill microorganisms that enter the nose. While sweet receptors control the rate at which those peptides are released. When the body is healthy, this system maintains the status quo. But when pathogens, toxins, and allergens get into the upper respiratory tract, it throws off the balance.


The new study shows the sweet taste receptor, T1R, can activate by certain amino acids secreted by bacteria. Researchers took cells from rhinosinusitis patients and isolated the various communities of bacteria. They found cultures of Staphylococcus bacteria produced two D-amino acids called D-Phe and D-Leu, both activates T1R sweet receptors and block the release of antimicrobial peptides.

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These amino acids block the body’s natural immune response by hitting the breaks on the protective bitter taste receptors, said, the study’s senior author Noam A. Cohen, MD, Ph.D.

The two D-amino acids combined with Staphylococcus, can also prevent the formation of other bacteria colonies. In addition to showing the importance of sweet and bitter taste receptors in shaping the microbial communities that exist in the human airway. Researchers say this could also lead to specific therapies to treat chronic rhinosinusitis.

Specifically, sweet-receptor blockers used in some food and supplement products, may useful to block activation of T1R, which allows the body’s normal defenses to work properly, even when high concentrations of D-amino acids are present.

More information: [ScienceSignaling]