Peri-threshold Trigeminal Stimulation with Capsaicin Increases Taste Sensitivity in Humans

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung



Introduction: Taste perception is affected by trigeminal stimuli, i.e., capsaicin. This has been studied at suprathreshold concentrations. However, little is known about taste perception at threshold level in the presence of low concentration of capsaicin. The aim of the study was to explore whether taste sensitivity for sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and umami is modulated by the presence of capsaicin in the peri-threshold range. Methods: Fifty-seven adults (age range 19–85 years; 32 women) with functional gustation participated in the study. Based on their perception of phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), the group was stratified into non-tasters (n = 20) and tasters (n = 37). Threshold for sweet (sucrose), sour (citric acid), salty (sodium chloride), bitter (quinine-hydrochloride), and umami (sodium-glutamate) tastes was estimated using a single-staircase paradigm (3-alternative forced choice; volume per trial 0.1 ml) with or without 0.9-µM capsaicin added. This capsaicin concentration had been determined in pilot studies to be in the range of oral perception thresholds. Results: The addition of capsaicin produced lower taste thresholds for sweet, sour, salty, and bitter but not for umami. In contrast, neither PTC taster status nor sex affected these results. Conclusion: The current results indicate that a low concentration of capsaicin increases gustatory sensitivity. Implications: The current findings provide evidence supporting different effects of capsaicin on taste perception at threshold level. It has implications for boosting taste sensitivity or flavor enjoyment with low concentration of capsaicin.


FachzeitschriftChemosensory perception
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Apr. 2022



  • Irritation, Mouth, Psychophysics, Taste, Thresholds, Trigeminal