Antidepressant drugs can improve people's sense of taste, a new study has revealed.


The surprising findings could lead to a new taste test that predicts how a person will respond to various antidepressants, the researchers say. The findings may also help explain why patients taking such medication often gain weight.


Lucy Donaldson at the University of Bristol, UK, and colleagues tested the taste bud acuity of 20 healthy volunteers. Donaldson took cotton swabs that had been dipped in bitter, sweet or sour solutions of varying concentrations and dabbed these swabs on subjects' tongues to determine their normal taste sensitivity.


Each participant then received either a placebo pill or one of two types of common antidepressants - paroxetine or reboxetine. Researchers re-tested volunteers' taste sensitivity two hours after giving them the pills.



Whereas the placebo caused no change in participants' ability to taste, both types of antidepressants increased their sensitivity to bitter tastes.


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Original Citation: Heath, T.P., Melichar, J.K., Nutt, D.J., Donaldson, L.F. (2006). Human taste thresholds are modulated by serotonin and noradrenaline, Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 49, 12664-12671.