In rodents, section of the taste nerve results in degeneration of the taste buds. Following regeneration of the cut taste nerve, however, the taste buds reappear. This phenomenon can be used to study the functional reformation of the peripheral neural system responsible for sweet taste. In this study we examined the recovery of sweet responses by the chorda tympani (CT) nerve after nerve crush as well as inhibition of these responses by gurmarin (Gur), a sweet response inhibitor. After about 2 weeks of CT nerve regeneration, no significant response to any taste stimuli could be observed. At 3 weeks, responses to sweet stimuli reappeared but were not significantly inhibited by Gur. At 4 weeks, Gur inhibition of sweet responses reached statistically significant levels. Thus, the Gur-sensitive (GS) component of the sweet response reappeared about 1 week later than the Gur-insensitive (GI) component. Moreover, single CT fibers responsive to sucrose could be classified into distinct GS and GI groups at 4 weeks. After 5 weeks or more, responses to sweet compounds before and after treatment with Gur became indistinguishable from responses in the intact group. During regeneration, the GS and GI components of the sucrose response could be distinguished based on their concentration-dependent responses to sucrose. These results suggest that mice have two different sweet-reception systems, distinguishable by their sensitivity to Gur (the GS and GI systems). These two sweet-reception systems may be reconstituted independently during regeneration of the mouse CT nerve.
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