Discrimination between the tastes of sucrose and monosodium glutamate in rats

Chem Senses. 2002 May;27(4):375-82. doi: 10.1093/chemse/27.4.375.


Conditioned taste aversion studies have demonstrated that rats conditioned to avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG) with amiloride added to reduce the intensity of the sodium component of MSG taste, will generalize an aversion for MSG to sucrose and vice versa. This suggests that taste transduction for sodium, sucrose and MSG may intersect at some point. Generalization of conditioned taste aversion indicates that two substances share similar taste features, but it does not reveal the extent of their differences. In this study, we tested how well rats can discriminate sucrose and MSG under a variety of conditions. Water-deprived rats were trained on a combination of water reinforcement and shock avoidance to discriminate between MSG and sucrose, both with and without amiloride, and with and without equimolar NaCl in all solutions. In the absence of amiloride, rats reliably distinguished between MSG and sucrose down to 10 mM solutions. However, they could correctly identify solutions only above 50 mM in the presence of amiloride, equimolar sodium chloride, or both. These results suggest that gustatory stimulation by MSG and sucrose interact somewhere in taste transduction, perhaps within taste receptor cells or gustatory afferent pathways.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amiloride / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Diuretics / pharmacology
  • Electroshock
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sodium Glutamate / pharmacology*
  • Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Taste / drug effects*
  • Taste Threshold / drug effects


  • Diuretics
  • Sucrose
  • Amiloride
  • Sodium Glutamate