The prototypic umami substance monosodium glutamate (MSG) reinforces preferences for its own flavor, as well as preferences for flavors associated with it, by conditioning processes. Mice of 3 inbred strains (C57BL/6J (B6), 129P3/J, and FVB/NJ) and 2 taste-knockout (KO) groups derived from the B6 lineage were initially indifferent to 200mM MSG, but this evaluation was altered by forced exposure to MSG. B6 and KO mice acquired an MSG preference, 129 mice remained indifferent, and FVB mice avoided MSG. The shifts in preference imply a postoral basis for MSG effects, suggesting that it could produce preferences for associated flavors. New mice were trained with a conditioned stimulus (CS+) flavor mixed in 200mM MSG and a CS- flavor in water. Similar to the parent B6 strain, mice missing the T1r3 element of an umami receptor or the downstream signaling component Trpm5 learned to prefer the CS+ flavor and subsequently showed similar preferences for MSG in an ascending concentration series. Consistent with their responses to forced exposure, the 129 strain did not acquire a significant CS+ preference, and the FVB strain avoided the CS+ flavor. The 129 and FVB strains showed little attraction in the ascending MSG concentration series. Together, these data indicate that the postoral effects of MSG can modulate responses to its own and MSG-paired flavors. The basis for strain differences in the responses to MSG is not certain, but the taste-signaling elements T1r3 and Trpm5, which are also present in the gut, are not required for mediation of this flavor learning.
Keywords: 129; C57BL/6; FVB; MSG; T1r3; Trpm5.