Taste and the Gastrointestinal tract: from physiology to potential therapeutic target for obesity

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Flavor is the combination of gustatory, olfactory and trigeminal sensations, representing the three main sensory pathways that allow detecting environmental chemical substances. Taste, in particular, is a complex chemosensory path that allows identification of substances present in ingested foods and beverages. In this manuscript, we propose a conceptual roadmap from aspects related to the evolution and the physiological role of taste, up to the current knowledge about its implication in the modulation of a healthy state, or obesity. More specifically, we focused on the role of stimulation of taste receptors in releasing gut hormones (also known as enterohormones), and their effects on the regulation of food intake, by inducing satiety, either by locally acting (in the gastrointestinal tract), or centrally (in the brain). Recent evidence demonstrated that some enterohormones are able to modulate gastrointestinal motility, thus affecting an orexigenic responses in the central nervous system. In keeping with this, we discuss the ability of the gustatory system to be a final checkpoint control for food intake regulation, and we speculate about taste perception manipulation in the management of obesity.

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Obesity Programs of nutrition, Education, Research and Assessment (OPERA) group members served as collaborators and approved the final version of the manuscript: Annamaria Colao, Antonio Aversa, Barbara Altieri, Luigi Angrisani, Giuseppe Annunziata, Rocco Barazzoni, Luigi Barrea, Giuseppe Bellastella, Bernadette Biondi, Elena Cantone, Brunella Capaldo, Sara Cassarano, Rosario Cuomo, Luigi Di Luigi, Andrea Di Nisio, Carla Di Somma, Ludovico Docimo, Katherine Esposito, Carlo Foresta, Pietro Forestieri, Alessandra Gambineri, Francesco Garifalos, Cristiano Giardiello, Carla Giordano, Francesco Giorgino, Dario Giugliano, Daniela Laudisio, Davide Lauro, Andrea Lenzi, Silvia Magno, Paolo Macchia, MariaIda Maiorino, Emilio Manno, Chiara Marocco, Paolo Marzullo, Chiara Mele, Davide Menafra, Silvia Migliaccio, Marcello Monda, Filomena Morisco, Fabrizio Muratori, Giovanna Muscogiuri, Mario Musella, Gerardo Nardone, Claudia Oriolo, Uberto Pagotto, Pasquale Perrone Filardi, Luigi Piazza, Rosario Pivonello,Barbara Polese, Paolo Pozzilli, Giulia Puliani, Stefano Radellini, Gabriele Riccardi, Domenico Salvatore, Ferruccio Santini, Giovanni Sarnelli, Lorenzo Scappaticcio, Silvia Savastano,Bruno Trimarco, Dario Tuccinardi,Paola Vairano, Nunzia Verde, Roberto Vettor.

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This article is published as part of a supplement funded by Endocrinology Unit, Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University Federico II, Naples, Italy.

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Giovanni Sarnelli and Giuseppe Annunziata contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to Giovanni Sarnelli.

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