Sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil is associated with gustin (carbonic anhydrase VI) gene polymorphism, salivary zinc, and body mass index in humans

Alessandra Padiglia, Andrea Zonza, Elena Atzori, Caterina Chillotti, Carla Calò, Beverly Tepper, Iole Tomassini Barbarossa

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Background: The individual ability to taste 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) may be correlated with body mass index (BMI) and differences in the salivary proteins involved in taste function, such as the zinc-dependent enzyme gustin, which is a trophic factor of taste buds. Objective: We investigated the possible association of PROP taste responsiveness with gustin gene polymorphism rs2274333 (A/G), salivary ionic zinc concentrations, and BMI. Design: We measured cognitive eating behaviors and BMI in 75 volunteers (28 men and 47 women; mean ± SEM age: 25 ± 3 y). The intensity of taste perception evoked by PROP and sodium chloride solutions was estimated to evaluate PROP taster status. Salivary ionic zinc concentrations were measured, and molecular analyses of the gustin gene polymorphism were performed in individuals classified by PROP status by using polymerase chain reaction techniques. Results: We classified subjects as PROP supertasters (n = 27), medium tasters (n = 28), or nontasters (n = 20). Salivary ionic zinc concentrations and BMI were greater in nontasters than in supertasters (P = 0.003 and P = 0.042, respectively). Molecular analyses of gustin DNA showed that allele A and genotype AA were significantly more frequent in supertasters, whereas allele G and genotype GG were significantly more frequent in nontasters (P < 0.001). Conclusions: These data showed that responsiveness to PROP is inversely related to BMI and salivary ionic zinc concentrations. The gustin gene dimorphism rs2274333 observed in supertaster and non-taster subjects may influence the protein conformation and, thereby, affect zinc ion binding. Our data showed a direct association between PROP sensitivity and a polymorphism in the gustin gene that is hypothesized to affect its function. This trial was registered at as UNICADBSITB-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-545
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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