Detection of maltodextrin and its discrimination from sucrose are independent of the T1R2 + T1R3 heterodimer

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2017 Oct 1;313(4):R450-R462. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00049.2017. Epub 2017 Aug 2.


Maltodextrins, such as Maltrin and Polycose, are glucose polymer mixtures of varying chain lengths that are palatable to rodents. Although glucose and other sugars activate the T1R2 + T1R3 "sweet" taste receptor, recent evidence from T1R2- or T1R3-knockout (KO) mice suggests that maltodextrins, despite their glucose polymer composition, activate a separate receptor mechanism to generate a taste percept qualitatively distinguishable from that of sweeteners. However, explicit discrimination of maltodextrins from prototypical sweeteners has not yet been psychophysically tested in any murine model. Therefore, mice lacking T1R2 + T1R3 and wild-type controls were tested in a two-response taste discrimination task to determine whether maltodextrins are 1) detectable when both receptor subunits are absent and 2) perceptually distinct from that of sucrose irrespective of viscosity, intensity, and hedonics. Most KO mice displayed similar Polycose sensitivity as controls. However, some KO mice were only sensitive to the higher Polycose concentrations, implicating potential allelic variation in the putative polysaccharide receptor or downstream pathways unmasked by the absence of T1R2 + T1R3. Varied Maltrin and sucrose concentrations of approximately matched viscosities were then presented to render the oral somatosensory features, intensity, and hedonic value of the solutions irrelevant. Although both genotypes competently discriminated Maltrin from sucrose, performance was apparently driven by the different orosensory percepts of the two stimuli in control mice and the presence of a Maltrin but not sucrose orosensory cue in KO mice. These data support the proposed presence of an orosensory receptor mechanism that gives rise to a qualitatively distinguishable sensation from that of sucrose.

Keywords: knockout mice; maltodextrins; psychophysics; taste; taste receptor subunit.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Polysaccharides / administration & dosage*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Taste Perception / drug effects
  • Taste Perception / physiology*


  • Polysaccharides
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Sweetening Agents
  • taste receptors, type 1
  • Sucrose
  • maltodextrin