A Bitter Taste in Your Heart

Conor J. Bloxham, Simon R. Foster, Walter G. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The human genome contains ∼29 bitter taste receptors (T2Rs), which are responsible for detecting thousands of bitter ligands, including toxic and aversive compounds. This sentinel function varies between individuals and is underpinned by naturally occurring T2R polymorphisms, which have also been associated with disease. Recent studies have reported the expression of T2Rs and their downstream signaling components within non-gustatory tissues, including the heart. Though the precise role of T2Rs in the heart remains unclear, evidence points toward a role in cardiac contractility and overall vascular tone. In this review, we summarize the extra-oral expression of T2Rs, focusing on evidence for expression in heart; we speculate on the range of potential ligands that may activate them; we define the possible signaling pathways they activate; and we argue that their discovery in heart predicts an, as yet, unappreciated cardiac physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number431
Number of pages25
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2020


  • bitter ligands
  • cardiac physiology
  • G protein-coupled receptors
  • polymorphisms
  • signaling
  • taste receptors

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