New publication!

Our new article has been accepted in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN:

Leite JMRS, Ribeiro A, Pereira JL, Alves de Souza C, Heider D, Pavan Soler JM, Mingroni-Netto RC, Fisberg RM, Rogero MM, Sarti FM: Missense genetic variants in major bitter taste receptors are associated with diet quality and food intake in a highly admixed underrepresented population. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN 2024, in press. (Link)


Background and aims

To investigate associations between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TAS1R and TAS2R taste receptors and diet quality, intake of alcohol, added sugar, and fat, using linear regression and machine learning techniques in a highly admixed population.


In the ISA-Capital health survey, 901 individuals were interviewed and had socioeconomic, demographic, health characteristics, along with dietary information obtained through two 24-hour recalls. Data on 12 components related to food groups, nutrients, and calories was combined into a diet quality score (BHEI-R). BHEI-R, SoFAAs (calories from added sugar, saturated fat, and alcohol) and Alcohol use were tested for associations with 255 TAS2R SNPs and 73 TAS1R SNPs for 637 individuals with regression analysis and Random Forest. Significant SNPs were combined into Genetic taste scores (GTSs).


Among 23 SNPs significantly associated either by stepwise linear/logistic regression or random forest with any possible biological functionality, the missense variants rs149217752 in TAS2R40, for SoFAAs, and rs2233997 in TAS2R4, were associated with both BHEI-R (under 4% increase in Mean Squared Error) and SoFAAs. GTSs increased the variance explanation of quantitative phenotypes and there was a moderately high AUC for alcohol use.


The study provides insights into the genetic basis of human taste perception through the identification of missense variants in the TAS2R gene family. These findings may contribute to future strategies in precision nutrition aimed at improving food quality by reducing added sugar, saturated fat, and alcohol intake.

Written by: Dominik Heider