Bitter taste in aging: compound-specific decline in sensitivity

Physiol Behav. 1994 Dec;56(6):1237-41. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(94)90371-9.


Threshold sensitivity to and the perceived intensity of two bitter compounds, quinine sulfate and urea, were assessed in 52 young adults and 60 elderly adults. Consistent with previous literature, age-related declines in sensitivity to the bitterness of quinine were observed at both threshold and suprathreshold levels. In contrast, the same young and elderly subjects showed comparable sensitivity to the bitterness of urea. These results provide further support for the existence of multiple bitter taste transduction sequences in humans, and indicate that they may be differentially affected by aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quinine
  • Taste Threshold*
  • Taste*
  • Urea


  • Urea
  • Quinine