It is widely accepted that humans can taste mono- and disaccharides as sweet substances, but they cannot taste longer chain oligo- and polysaccharides. From the evolutionary standpoint, the ability to taste starch or its oligomeric hydrolysis products would be highly adaptive, given their nutritional value. Here, we report that humans can taste glucose oligomer preparations (average degree of polymerization 7 and 14) without any other sensorial cues. The same human subjects could not taste the corresponding glucose polymer preparation (average degree of polymerization 44). When the sweet taste receptor was blocked by lactisole, a known sweet inhibitor, subjects could not detect sweet substances (glucose, maltose, and sucralose), but they could still detect the glucose oligomers. This suggests that glucose oligomer detection is independent of the hT1R2/hT1R3 sweet taste receptor. Human subjects described the taste of glucose oligomers as "starchy," while they describe sugars as "sweet." The dose-response function of glucose oligomer was also found to be indistinguishable from that of glucose on a molar basis.
Keywords: carbohydrates; glucose oligomers; receptor; starchy; taste.
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