Rapid changes in gustatory function induced by contralateral nerve injury and sodium depletion

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13 Scopus citations


The combination of dietary sodium depletion and unilateral chorda tympani (CT) nerve section decreases sodium taste function in the intact CT nerve. However, functional changes have not been examined prior to day 4 postsectioning, even though degenerative and inflammatory responses are robust during that period. Rats received unilateral CT section and/or dietary sodium depletion, accomplished by 2 injections of furosemide and a sodium-restricted diet, on day 0. Surgical controls received sham nerve sectioning. At days 1, 2, 3, or 4, taste responses were recorded from the intact nerve. Functional changes were rapid and unexpected. At day 1 postsectioning, neural responses from the uninjured CT of both control-fed and sodium-depleted animals were reduced. By day 2, however, normal function was restored in control-fed rats, whereas functional deficits persisted in depleted animals. Sodium depletion alone also induced a transient decrease in sodium responses at days 2-3 after furosemide injection. These results demonstrate that distant neural injury can elicit gustatory plasticity regardless of the dietary environment, but normal responses can be restored. We suggest that neutrophils mediate the initial postinjury deficits in taste function, whereas macrophages promote the recovery of normal function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-135
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Amiloride
  • Chorda tympani nerve
  • Neural degeneration
  • Neural plasticity
  • Neurophysiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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