The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Genetic association of taste receptor pathways, caries and gender variations

STEVEN K. WENDELL1, XIAOJING WANG1, MELISSA BROWN1, REBECCA S. DESENSI1, ROBERT J. WEYANT2, RICHARD CROUT3, DANIEL W. MCNEIL4 and MARY L. MARAZITA1,5.

1Department of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 2Department of Dental Public Health and Information Management, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 3Department of Periodontics, School of Dentistry, West Virginia University, 4Dental Practice and Rural Health, West Virginia University, 5Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh

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Dental caries is influenced by the interplay of a variety of environmental and genetic factors. Dietary habits such as frequency, timing and carbohydrate source represent caries risk factors that are included in the environmental factors. Certain dietary habits can in turn be influenced by individual taste sensitivities and preferences which themselves have been shown to have a role in caries risk. Collectively, a variety of gender differences exist in different aspects of these habits and preferences. The genetic contribution of variants in the taste pathway genes to taste sensitivities and preferences has become evident. We hypothesized that genetic variation in the taste pathway genes may be associated with caries risk. Families were recruited by the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA) for collection of biological samples, demographic data and clinical assessment of oral health including caries scores. Multiple single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assays were performed in taste pathways genes including taste receptors and a downstream G-protein (TAS2R38, TAS1R2, GNAT3). Genotype and haplotype analysis was performed using transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) analysis (FBAT software) for three dentition groups: primary, mixed, and permanent. Statistically significant associations were seen in TAS2R38 and TAS1R2 for caries risk and/or protection. In addition to a potential role in dietary habits and taste preferences, taste pathway genes have been identified in tissues including the GI tract and pancreas with roles in hormonal responses. This presents multiple potential mechanisms for the genetic influence of the taste pathways genes on caries risk that could interplay with gender influences.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (R01-DE014899). Additional support was provided by the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, the West Virginia School of Dentistry, and the West Virginia Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, or the National Institutes of Health.

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