Increased orosensory stimulation from palatable diets and decreased feedback from gut signals have been proposed as contributing factors to obesity development. Whether altered taste functions associated with obesity are common traits or acquired deficits to environmental factors, such as a high-energy (HE)-diet, however, is not clear. To address this, we examined preference and sensitivity of increasing concentrations of sucrose solutions in rats prone (OP) and resistant (OR) to obesity during chow and HE feeding and measured lingual gene expression of the sweet taste receptor T1R3. When chow-fed, OP rats exhibited reduced preference and acceptance of dilute sucrose solutions, sham-fed less sucrose compared to OR rats, and had reduced lingual T1R3 gene expression. HE-feeding abrogated differences in sucrose preference and intake and lingual T1R3 expression between phenotypes. Despite similar sucrose intakes however, OP rats consumed significantly more total calories during 48-h two-bottle testing compared to OR rats. The results demonstrate that OP rats have an innate deficit for sweet taste detection, as illustrated by a reduction in sensitivity to sweets and reduced T1R3 gene expression; however their hyperphagia and subsequent obesity during HE-feeding is most likely not due to altered consumption of sweets.
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