In situ Ca2+ imaging reveals neurotransmitter receptors for glutamate in taste receptor cells

A. Caicedo, M. Samir Jafri, S. D. Roper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The neurotransmitters at synapses in taste buds are not yet known with confidence. Here we report a new calcium-imaging technique for taste buds that allowed us to test for the presence of glutamate receptors (GluRs) in living isolated tissue preparations. Taste cells of rat foliate papillae were loaded with calcium green dextran (CaGD). Lingual slices containing CaGD-labeled taste cells were imaged with a scanning confocal microscope and superfused with glutamate (30 μM to 1 mM), kainate (30 and 100 μM), AMPA (30 and 100 μM), or NMDA (100 μM). Responses were observed in 26% of the cells that were tested with 300 μM glutamate. Responses to glutamate were localized to the basal processes and cell bodies, which are synaptic regions of taste cells. Glutamate responses were dose-dependent and were induced by concentrations as low as 30 μM. The non-NMDA receptor antagonists CNQX and GYKI 52466 reversibly blocked responses to glutamate. Kainate, but not AMPA, also elicited Ca2+ responses. NMDA stimulated increases in [Ca2+](i) when the bath medium was modified to optimize for NMDA receptor activation. The subset of cells that responded to glutamate was either NMDA-unresponsive (54%) or NMDA-responsive (46%), suggesting that there are presumably two populations of glutamate-sensitive taste cells - one with NMDA receptors and the other without NMDA receptors. The function of GluRs in taste buds is not yet known, but the data suggest that glutamate is a neurotransmitter there. GluRs in taste cells might be presynaptic autoreceptors or postsynaptic receptors at afferent or efferent synapses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7978-7985
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2000


  • Calcium green dextran
  • Calcium imaging
  • Foliate papilla
  • Glutamate receptors
  • Gustatory system
  • Kainate
  • NMDA
  • Taste bud
  • Tongue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'In situ Ca<sup>2+</sup> imaging reveals neurotransmitter receptors for glutamate in taste receptor cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this