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«Taste Disorders: Hypogeusia, Ageusia, and Dysgeusia Alexandra M. Brantly Wofford College A Critical Literature Review submitted in partial ...»

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Running head: TASTE DISORDERS 1

Taste Disorders: Hypogeusia, Ageusia, and Dysgeusia

Alexandra M. Brantly

Wofford College

A Critical Literature Review submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Senior

Research Thesis



Taste is a large part of our everyday lives and is commonly taken for granted. Damage or

dysfunction to the taste system, such as damage to structures or dysfunction in the taste pathway could be detrimental to people’s quality of life and nutritional intake. This literature review looks

into the etiology, assessment process, and treatment of each category of taste dysfunctions:

Hypogeusia, Ageusia, and Dysgeusia. The commonly linked disorder of burning mouth syndrome is also researched for a better connection to the three taste dysfunctions. New techniques to further knowledge on the subject are proposed as well as more preventative precautions.

TASTE DISORDERS 3 Introduction It is estimated that over two million Americans suffer from a chemosensory dysfunction.

Chemosensation involves receptors that are responsive to chemical stimuli. Chemosensation includes the senses taste and smell (Karita, Harada, Yoshida & Kokaze, 2012). This paper focuses on the taste, or gustatory, side of chemosensory dysfunction. Disorders related to taste abnormalities include ageusia, which refers to the lack of taste, hypogeusia, which refers to a diminished taste acuity, and dysgeusia, which refers to an unpleasant, obnoxious or perverted taste (Walker, 1990).

Pathway The gustatory system is complex. It includes reception, transduction, propagation, and perception of a chemical tasting or odorants. Each of these processes require a specific, and effective operation of numerous mechanisms (Ksouda, Affes, Hammami, Sahnoun, Atheymen, Hammami & Zeghal, 2011). PET scans of the human brain have revealed the specific structures involved in taste sensation. These structures include: the thalamus, insular cortex, anterior cingulated gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, lingual gyrus, caudate nucleus, and temporal gyri (Mattes, Cowart, Schiavo, Arnold, Garrison, Kare & Lowry, 1990). Taste perception is located at the level of the taste buds, which locate the taste receptors, and are located at different points of the oral cavity (Felix, Tomita, Pereira, Cordeiro, Carleti, Barros & Cabrel, 2009). When a tastant enters the mouth it is diffused through the tongue, pallet, epiglottis, pharynx, and larynx.

Tastants such as sweet and bitter are activated through g-protein coupled receptors, while tastants such as salty and sour act on specific ion channels. The electrical signals for taste are then sent to the central nervous system through the cranial nerves VII, IX, and X (Caldas, Facundes, Cunha, Balata, Lean & da Silva, 2013). The anatomy of the central taste pathway and the secondary

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however, knowledge of three main areas in which signals pass through: the nucleus tractus solitary (NTS) located in the medulla oblongata, the ventral posteromedial nucleus (VPM) of the thalamus, and the central trigeminal tract at the level of the pons or midbrain (CTT) (Tsivgoulis, Ioannis, Vadikolias, Galetta & Piperidou, 2011). Cranial Nerve VII contributes to two taste areas: the superior salivary nucleus and the gustatory nucleus. These areas supply sensory fibers, connected to the taste buds on the anterior two thirds of the tongue, with sensory information (Walker, 1990). The solitary tract, which involves the central tegmental tract to the medial VPM nucleus, is the first relay in taste sensation. Taste information is then relayed to the primary taste cortex in the frontal operculum and insular cortex finally reaching the secondary cortical taste area in the orbitofrontal cortex (Kim, Song, Jeong, Choi & Na, 2007). Due to the complexities of the gustatory system assessment of dysfunction within the system can be difficult.

Assessment To assess taste disorders, the process of chemogustometry is used, but because taste is a chemical sense and is closely related to smell, testing for taste, alone, is difficult due to the need to simply narrow down subject perception to objective taste components (Naik & Claussen, 2010).

Taste sensitivity is most commonly tested through two different procedures:

electroguatometric and a form of a filter disk test. Electroguatometic testing uses electrical stimulation in specific areas of the oral mucosa where taste receptors are located. This method allows for the evaluation of quantitative taste sensitivity but cannot be applied to qualitative assessment of different tastants. Electroguatometric testing is more commonly used to evaluate taste disruptions due to nerve dysfunctions in the sensory pathway. Filter disk tests consist of filtered paper soaked in chemical solutions that correspond with one of the five tastants. The

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concentrations of each basic taste should be detectable. This type of testing allows for the evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative taste sensitivity (Sasano, Satoh-Kuriwada, Shoji, Sekine-Hayakawa, Kawai & Uneyama, 2010). In a variation of the filter disk test, there is a three-drop method in which four tastants are used. Each tastant is dropped onto the subject’s tongue three times at different concentration, all of which should be detectable. Then the subject verifies whether they perceived the tastant or not. This test is used often used due to its cost efficiency and its high test and retest reliability (Hsiao & Li, 2007). When assessing for taste disorders, test results can be plotted onto a pentagon chart shown in Figure 1. A pentagon chart has been viewed as the easiest way to assess taste disorders and includes the basic chemical stimuli of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter that are always tested for. When these tastants are tested, their level of concentration and the level at which the subject can identify them are plotted upon this chart allowing physicians to easily read and assess the taste dysfunction (Naik & Claussen, 2010). Along with the assessment of taste dysfunctions in an objective way, there are often forms of assessment to gain subjective insight to the subjects’ mood, experience, and how the disorder may affect their daily life. In some cases patients can fill out a questionnaire to verbally explain the sensations they are experiencing and also to describe their personal daily routines such as their food frequency and nutrimental intake (Karita, et al., 2012). In other scenarios patients’ moods are evaluated and categorized into a five-point scale to compute for anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion. These different types of assessment allow physicians to evaluate patients’ quality of life (Hummel, Frasneli, Gerber & Hummel, 2007). Quality of life is often an effect of taste disorders but research has also found that quality of life may also be a contributor to taste disorders. Psychological factors such as mood can change thresholds of the four basic

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(Hummel, et al., 2007). It has been reported that when normal serotonin and noradrenaline levels are disrupted, as they typically are in patients suffering from depression and anxiety, they have an impact of taste disorders. Those who suffer from depression usually have a decreased sensitivity to all tastes and those who suffer from panic disorders have a decreased sensitivity to bitter tastants (Heath, T., Melichar, J., Nutt, D., & Donaldson, L, 2006).

Etiologies Chemosensory dysfunctions have multiply etiologies: psychogenic, systemic, oral, and neurological pathologies, however, pharmaceuticals are the most common cause of taste disturbances (Ksouda, et al., 2011). Taste disorders can be cause by various occurrences, the most common being, viral infections, glossitis, trauma to nerves, tumors, vascular causes affecting the neural pathway, neuropathies and iatrogenic. It has also been observed that many people who go though chemotherapy have a significant decrease in their gustatory functions during, and up to three months, after treatment. Overall taste sensitivity is diminished with age (Naik & Claussen, 2010). Causes have been linked to saliva in many cases due to components in saliva that can stimulate taste receptors and change taste sensitivity by chemical interaction (Sasano, et al., 2010). Pharmaceuticals’ chemical structures can disrupt several components that are key for taste. For example, pharmaceuticals may destroy mitosis in receptor cell replication, block the apical ion channels on a taste buds as a diuretic, it could lead to candida overgrowth on the tongue surface. Immunosuppressant and steroids are examples of the type of pharmaceuticals that can lead to taste disturbances (Ksouda, et al., 2011). Others causes of taste disorders can include viral infections, tumors, lesions associated with the taste pathways, head trauma, radiation therapy, epilepsy, psychiatric disorders and hypothyroidism. Also, some drugs have

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decrease of taste sensitivity (Sasano, et al., 2010). A simple solution to taste disorders caused by habitually use or abuse drugs is to reduce or stop use of the drug. Once use of drugs is reduced or stopped completely the symptoms of the disorder are typically reduced (Femiano, Lanz, Buonaiuto, Gombos & Cirillo, 2008). More specifically, cranial nerve VII is connected to the anterior two thirds of the tongue and the sublingual salivary gland and can be linked to the cause taste disorders due to different surgical issues (Walker, 1990). It has been reported that middle ear surgery could cause taste disorders. The chorda tympani pathway runs through the middle ear and is vulnerable to injury by chronic inflammatory processes or middle ear surgery. Due to the fact that parasympathetic chorda tympani fibers are responsible for the basal secretomotor innervation of these glands; consequently, a diminished salivary flow rate and xerostomia (chronic dry mouth), have been reported after middle-ear surgery which may be the underlying factor of middle ear surgery putting patients at a higher risk of developing a taste disorder (Guinand, Just, Stow, Van & Landis, 2010). Some reports have suggested that a portion of the gustatory fibers cross and ascend in the ML before synapsing in the thalamus and a lesion to these fibers may cause taste disturbances (Tsivgoulis, Loannis, Vadikolias, Galetta & Piperidou, 2011). It has also been suggested that damage due to the lingual branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve and excessive excision of soft palate leads to severe damage of the palatal taste nerve and may be a cause of taste disturbances after palatopharyngeal surgery (Hsiao & Li, 2007). Another factor that can cause taste disorders is the exposure to chemicals, whether they are industrial or household. Commonly, those who experience the taste disorders due to acute toxin exposure are easier to diagnose and assess due to the immediate symptom onset but those who have chronic exposure to toxins and gradually experience symptoms of a taste disorder are harder to diagnose

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Quality of life In general over five percent of the population has some olfactory or gustatory disorder, although most people do not even complain about it. In some cases, however, these symptoms can cause mood changes leading to decreased appetite, ingestion of spoiled food, body odor, or sexual dysfunction, lack of awareness of dangerous toxins, and thus a decrease in the quality of life (Ribas & Duffau, 2012). To assess the quality of life of those who suffer from taste disturbance a profile of mood state (POMS) questionnaire is used (Hummel, et al., 2007).

Maintenance of quality of life is very important especially for those who undergo surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. It is important to understand that patients, who suffer from alterations of taste, although not a lethal side effect, can lose pleasure of eating which is a major part of quality of life (Imai, Soeda, Komine, Otsuka & Shibata). Our taste perception is important for giving our body warning signs of possible toxic intake. Having a taste disorder can change eating habits, impact pleasure association, and disrupt the nutritional status of individuals. There may also be a reduction in the alert to risky situation that compromise the quality of life (Caldas, et al., 2013).

The treatment of taste disorders is difficult and dominantly depends on accurate assessment of the cause and type of taste disorder (Sasano, et al., 2010). This paper reviews literature on the topic hypogeusia, ageusia, and dysguesia covering the causes, assessment, and treatment of each.

Section I: Hypogeusia Hypogeusia is a category of taste disorder in which those who suffer show symptoms of a

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hypogeusia are related to socioeconomic level, alcohol and drug use, and certain surgeries.

Diagnostic tests are usually preformed using a filter paper test and treatment is still experimental.

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