Project: Research project

Project Details


The vertebrate taste bud is a good model for studying cellular
aging in the nervous system. Taste cells possess many
characteristics shared by neurons, such as excitability,
chemosensitivity, and synapses (Roper, 1983a; Kinnamon, Taylor,
Delay and Roper, 1985; Kinnamon and Roper, 1986). Taste cells
have the added advantage that their lifespan is short (only a few
days) compared to neurons, and thus age-related changes can be
measured with reliability and confidence: complicating factors
such as metabolic or hormonal differences between young and old
animals are avoided. Furthermore, detailed analyses of age-
related changes in the biophysical properties of taste cells and in
their membrane chemosensitivity can be conducted on taste cells.

Taste cells from the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) will be
impaled with microelectrodes in situ, using a new isolated
preparation developed in this laboratory (Roper, 1983). In depth
analyses of the membrane conductances, particularly potassium
conductance, will shed light on how ionic channels change over
the lifespan of an excitable cell. Chemical stimuli will be applied
focally onto the apical surface of taste cells to sutdy what age-
related changes in chemosensitivity occur. Cells will be impaled
with dye-filled micropipettes to identify the cells in subsequent
light and electron micrographs in order to correlate the functional
properites of the cell with its age: recent observations have
indicated that taste cell aging can be determined by
ultrastructural features (Kinnamon, et al. 1985; Delay, Kinnamon
and Roper, 1986).

These findings will provide information on cellular aging in
excitable tissues and will also lead to a better understanding of
taste transduction mechanisms.
Effective start/end date1/1/903/31/94


  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute on Aging


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