Taste perception of monosodium glutamate and inosine monophosphate by 129P3/J and C57BL/6ByJ mice

Physiol Behav. 2009 Oct 19;98(4):481-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.07.016. Epub 2009 Aug 8.


Our previous studies have shown that in long-term two-bottle preference tests, mice from the C57BL/6ByJ (B6) inbred strain drink more monosodium glutamate (MSG) and inosine monophosphate (IMP) than mice from the 129P3/J (129) inbred strain. The goal of this study was to examine whether this variation in consumption could be attributed to strain differences in perception of the taste quality of MSG and IMP. We developed a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) in B6 and 129 mice to 100 mM MSG or 10 mM IMP and used a brief-access taste assay to examine CTA generalization. B6 and 129 mice did not differ in the generalization patterns following CTA to MSG: mice from both strains generalized CTA from MSG to NaCl. In contrast, strain differences in the generalization patterns were evident following the CTA to IMP: while mice from both strains generalized CTA from IMP to MSG, 129 mice tended to have stronger CTA generalization to saccharin and d-tryptophan, both of which are perceived as sweet by humans. These data suggest that the strain differences in MSG consumption are not due to variation in perception of the taste quality of MSG. Instead, the differential intake of IMP likely reflects strain differences in the way the taste quality of IMP is perceived. Our data suggest that mice perceive MSG and IMP as complex taste stimuli: some taste components are shared between these two substances, but their relative intensity seems to be different for MSG and IMP. The amiloride-sensitive salt taste component is more prevalent in MSG than in IMP taste, and in B6 compared with 129 mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Food Additives / pharmacology*
  • Food Preferences / drug effects*
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Generalization, Psychological / drug effects
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology
  • Inosine Monophosphate / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sodium Glutamate / pharmacology*
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste Perception / drug effects*
  • Taste Perception / genetics*
  • Taste Threshold / drug effects
  • Taste Threshold / physiology


  • Food Additives
  • Inosine Monophosphate
  • Sodium Glutamate