Enhancement of combined umami and salty taste by glutathione in the human tongue and brain

Tazuko K. Goto, Andy Wai Kan Yeung, Hiroki C. Tanabe, Yuki Ito, Han Sung Jung, Yuzo Ninomiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Glutathione, a natural substance, acts on calcium receptors on the tongue and is known to enhance basic taste sensations. However, the effects of glutathione on brain activity associated with taste sensation on the tongue have not been determined under standardized taste delivery conditions. In this study, we investigated the sensory effect of glutathione on taste with no effect of the smell when glutathione added to a combined umami and salty taste stimulus. Twenty-six volunteers (12 women and 14 men; age 19-27 years) performed a sensory evaluation of taste of a solution of monosodium L-glutamate and sodium chloride, with and without glutathione. The addition of glutathione changed taste qualities and significantly increased taste intensity ratings under standardized taste delivery conditions (P < 0.001). Functional magnetic resonance imaging showed that glutathione itself elicited significant activation in the left ventral insula. These results are the first to demonstrate the enhancing effect of glutathione as reflected by brain data while tasting an umami and salty mixture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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