Mouse taste buds use serotonin as a neurotransmitter

Yi Jen Huang, Yutaka Maruyama, Kuo Shyan Lu, Elizabeth Pereira, Ilya Plonsky, John E. Baur, Dianqing Wu, Stephen D. Roper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Synapses between gustatory receptor cells and primary sensory afferent fibers transmit the output signal from taste buds to the CNS. Several transmitter candidates have been proposed for these synapses, including serotonin (5-HT), glutamate, acetylcholine, ATP, peptides, and others, but, to date, none has been unambiguously identified. We used Chinese hamster ovary cells stably expressing 5-HT2C receptors as biodetectors to monitor 5-HT release from taste buds. When taste buds were depolarized with KCl or stimulated with bitter, sweet, or sour (acid) tastants, serotonin was released. KCl- and acid-induced 5-HT release, but not release attributable to sweet or bitter stimulation, required Ca2+ influx. In contrast, 5-HT release evoked by sweet and bitter stimulation seemed to be triggered by intracellular Ca2+ release. These experiments strongly implicate serotonin as a taste bud neurotransmitter and reveal unexpected transmitter release mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-847
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 26 2005


  • Biosensors
  • Calcium imaging
  • Phospholipase C β2
  • Serotonin
  • Taste
  • Transmitters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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