Lasconi, 2019

2019 - Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 20;9(1):8834.

Bitter tastants and artificial sweeteners activate a subset of epithelial cells in acute tissue slices of the rat trachea

Lasconi C, Pifferi S, Hernandez-Clavijo A, Merigo F, Cecchini MP, Gonzalez-Velandia KY, Agostinelli E, Sbarbati A, Menini A.


Bitter and sweet receptors (T2Rs and T1Rs) are expressed in many extra-oral tissues including upper and lower airways. To investigate if bitter tastants and artificial sweeteners could activate physiological responses in tracheal epithelial cells we performed confocal Ca2+ imaging recordings on acute tracheal slices. We stimulated the cells with denatonium benzoate, a T2R agonist, and with the artificial sweeteners sucralose, saccharin and acesulfame-K. To test cell viability we measured responses to ATP. We found that 39% of the epithelial cells responding to ATP also responded to bitter stimulation with denatonium benzoate. Moreover, artificial sweeteners activated different percentages of the cells, ranging from 5% for sucralose to 26% for saccharin, and 27% for acesulfame-K. By using carbenoxolone, a gap junction blocker, we excluded that responses were mainly mediated by Ca2+ waves through cell-to-cell junctions. Pharmacological experiments showed that both denatonium and artificial sweeteners induced a PLC-mediated release of Ca2+ from internal stores. In addition, bitter tastants and artificial sweeteners activated a partially overlapping subpopulation of tracheal epithelial cells. Our results provide new evidence that a subset of ATP-responsive tracheal epithelial cells from rat are activated by both bitter tastants and artificial sweeteners.


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