Strong association between the 12q24 locus and sweet taste preference in the Japanese population revealed by genome-wide meta-analysis

J Hum Genet. 2020 Nov;65(11):939-947. doi: 10.1038/s10038-020-0787-x. Epub 2020 Jun 22.


The sweet taste preference of humans is an important adaptation to ensure the acquisition of carbohydrate nutrition; however, overconsumption of sweet foods can potentially lead to diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Although previous studies have suggested that interindividual variation of human sweet taste preference is heritable, genetic loci associated with the trait have yet to be fully elucidated. Here, we genotyped 12,312 Japanese participants using the HumanCore-12+ Custom BeadChip or the HumanCore-24 Custom BeadChip microarrays. The sweet taste preference of the participants was surveyed via an internet-based questionnaire, resulting in a five-point scale of sweet taste preference. The genome-wide meta-analysis of the Japanese participants revealed a strong association between the 12q24 locus and sweet taste preference scale (P = 2.8 × 10-70). The lead variant rs671 is monoallelic in non-East Asian populations and is located in the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) gene, encoding an enzyme involved in alcohol metabolism. The association between the minor allele of rs671 and sweet taste preference was attenuated by adjusting for alcohol drinking. The subgroup analysis showed that the effect of rs671 on sweet taste preference was greater in males than in females. In conclusion, we found an association between the 12q24 locus and sweet taste preference in the Japanese population, and showed that the adjustment for drinking habits attenuated the association. This novel genetic association may provide new clues to elucidate mechanisms determining sweet taste preferences.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / genetics
  • Alcohol Drinking / pathology
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 12 / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Loci / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Taste / genetics*
  • Taste / physiology


  • ALDH2 protein, human
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, Mitochondrial