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The Relationship Between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Taste Receptor Genes, Taste Perception and Dietary Intake

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Title: The Relationship Between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Taste Receptor Genes, Taste Perception and Dietary Intake
Author: Chamoun, Elie
Department: Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences
Program: Human Health and Nutritional Sciences
Advisor: Ma, David
Abstract: Food preferences and dietary habits are heavily influenced by taste perception, and there is growing interest in characterizing taste preferences based on genetic variation. Genetic differences in the ability to perceive key tastes may impact eating patterns. Therefore, increased understanding of taste genetics may lead to new personalized strategies, which may influence the trajectory of chronic disease risk. Recent advances show that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in taste receptor genes are associated with changes in psychophysical measures of taste as well as eating patterns. The current understanding of how genetic variation impacts taste function and dietary habits for sweet, fat, salt, sour, and umami taste is limited and warranted due to the role of these types of taste in detecting nutrients that pose health risks when overconsumed. Results from this thesis demonstrated that specific SNPs are associated with taste sensitivity, taste preference and eating patterns. In adults, associations between SNPs and psychophysical measures of taste were observed between rs4790151 (TRPV1) and salt sensitivity, rs2499729 (GRM4) and umami sensitivity, rs713598 (TAS2R38) and bitter sensitivity, and rs236514 (KCNJ2) and sour preference. In children, associations were observed between rs4790522 (TRPV1) and salt preference, and rs173135 (KCNJ2) and sour preference. The rs9701796 (TAS1R2) sweet taste receptor SNP was significantly associated with both sweet preference and dietary intake of added sugar in children, while calories from sugar in snacks among children were associated with the rs35874116 (TAS1R2) sweet taste receptor SNP. Work from this thesis also demonstrates that higher sensitivities to salt, sweet, and umami taste are associated with decreases in the preferences for these tastes. Overall, SNPs in taste receptor genes have been demonstrated in this thesis to associate with psychophysical measures of taste and, in some instances, affect food preferences and eating patterns. This emerging and active field of taste research shows great promise to enhance our fundamental understanding of how taste receptor SNPs contribute to the genetic basis of eating patterns, health and disease. Results from this thesis provide important new insights into the relationship between SNPs in taste receptor genes, taste perception and dietary intake in both children and adults.
Date: 2018
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