Immunohistochemical Analysis of Human Vallate Taste Buds

Chem Senses. 2015 Nov;40(9):655-60. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjv048. Epub 2015 Sep 22.


The morphology of the vallate papillae from postmortem human samples was investigated with immunohistochemistry. Microscopically, taste buds were present along the inner wall of the papilla, and in some cases in the outer wall as well. The typical taste cell markers PLCβ2, GNAT3 (gustducin) and the T1R3 receptor stain elongated cells in human taste buds consistent with the Type II cells in rodents. In the human tissue, taste bud cells that stain with Type II cell markers, PLCβ2 and GNAT3, also stain with villin antibody. Two typical immunochemical markers for Type III taste cells in rodents, PGP9.5 and SNAP25, fail to stain any taste bud cells in the human postmortem tissue, although these antibodies do stain numerous nerve fibers throughout the specimen. Car4, another Type III cell marker, reacted with only a few taste cells in our samples. Finally, human vallate papillae have a general network of innervation similar to rodents and antibodies directed against SNAP25, PGP9.5, acetylated tubulin and P2X3 all stain free perigemmal nerve endings as well as intragemmal taste fibers. We conclude that with the exception of certain molecular features of Type III cells, human vallate papillae share the structural, morphological, and molecular features observed in rodents.

Keywords: P2X3; PLCb2; SNAP25; glossopharyngeal; gustducin; taste bud.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Phospholipase C beta / metabolism
  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25 / metabolism
  • Taste Buds / metabolism*
  • Taste Buds / pathology
  • Transducin / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase / metabolism


  • SNAP25 protein, human
  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25
  • UCHL1 protein, human
  • gustducin
  • Phospholipase C beta
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase
  • Transducin