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Keywords:

  • confocal microscopy;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • taste buds;
  • whole-cell voltage clamping

Abstract

Taste buds contain two types of taste receptor cells, inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor type 3-immunoreactive cells (type II cells) and synaptosomal-associating protein-25-immunoreactive cells (type III cells). We investigated their postnatal development in mouse fungiform taste buds immunohistochemically and electrophysiologically. The cell density, i.e. the number of cells per taste bud divided by the maximal area of the horizontal cross-section of the taste bud, of type II cells increased by postnatal day (PD)49, where as that of type III cells was unchanged throughout the postnatal observation period and was equal to that of the adult cells at PD1. The immunoreactivity of taste bud cell subtypes was the same as that of their respective subtypes in adult mice throughout the postnatal observation period. Almost all type II cells were immunoreactive to gustducin at PD1, and then the ratio of gustducin-immunoreactive type II cells to all type II cells decreased to a saturation level, ∼60% of all type II cells, by PD15. Type II and III cells generated voltage-gated currents similar to their respective adult cells even at PD3. These results show that infant taste receptor cells are as excitable as those of adults and propagate in a subtype-dependent manner. The relationship between the ratio of each taste receptor cell subtype to all cells and taste nerve responses are discussed.