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    Mennella, Julie A. Bobowski, Nuala K. and Reed, Danielle R. 2016. The development of sweet taste: From biology to hedonics. Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, Vol. 17, Issue. 2, p. 171.


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A Common Genetic Influence on Human Intensity Ratings of Sugars and High-Potency Sweeteners

  • Liang-Dar Hwang (a1) (a2), Gu Zhu (a1), Paul A. S. Breslin (a3) (a4), Danielle R. Reed (a3), Nicholas G. Martin (a1) and Margaret J. Wright (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/thg.2015.42
  • Published online: 17 July 2015
Abstract

The perception of sweetness varies among individuals but the sources of this variation are not fully understood. Here, in a sample of 1,901 adolescent and young adults (53.8% female; 243 MZ and 452 DZ twin pairs, 511 unpaired individuals; mean age 16.2 ± 2.8, range 12–26 years), we studied the variation in the perception of sweetness intensity of two monosaccharides and two high-potency sweeteners: glucose, fructose, neohesperidine dihydrochalcone (NHDC), and aspartame. Perceived intensity for all sweeteners decreased with age (2–5% per year) and increased with the history of otitis media (6–9%). Males rated aspartame slightly stronger than females (7%). We found similar heritabilities for sugars (glucose: h2 = 0.31, fructose: h2 = 0.34) and high-potency sweeteners (NHDC: h2 = 0.31, aspartame: h2 = 0.30); all were in the modest range. Multivariate modeling showed that a common genetic factor accounted for >75% of the genetic variance in the four sweeteners, suggesting that individual differences in perceived sweet intensity, which are partly due to genetic factors, may be attributed to a single set of genes. This study provided evidence of the shared genetic pathways between the perception of sugars and high-potency sweeteners.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
address for correspondence: Liang-Dar Hwang, Neuroimaging Genetics Group, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston QLD 4006, Australia. E-mail: Daniel.Hwang@qimrberghofer.edu.au
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