Purpose of review: This review explores the recent literature on the role of CD36 in the taste of fat, eating behavior and obesity risk in rodents and humans.
Recent findings: During the last decade, evidence was accumulated supporting the existence of a taste of fat responsible for the spontaneous preference for lipid-rich foods. Surprisingly, the multifunctional membrane-associated protein CD36 appears to play a significant role in this system in rodents. Recently, another plausible gustatory lipid sensor, the GPR120, was also identified in mice, revealing that the mechanism involved in oral fat detection is more complex than initially expected. Interestingly, lingual CD36 and GPR120 display a differential regulation during a meal suggesting complementary functions. CD36 and GPR120 have also been identified in human taste buds. Implication of lingual CD36 in the chemoreception of fat in foods and consequences on eating behavior and obesity risk is actively studied in various species.
Summary: Recent studies suggest that lingual CD36 is involved in the attraction for fatty foods in rodents. The fact that it is also expressed in taste buds in humans raises the possibility of a universal function as gustatory lipid sensor able to affect eating behavior.