Little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying drug-induced taste disorders, which can cause malnutrition and reduce quality of life. One of taste disorders is known adverse effects of bisphosphonates, which are administered as anti-osteoporotic drugs. Therefore, the present study evaluated the effects of risedronate (a bisphosphonate) on taste bud cells. Expression analyses revealed that farnesyl diphosphate synthase (FDPS, a key enzyme in the mevalonate pathway) was present in a subset of mouse taste bud and tongue epithelial cells, especially type III sour-sensitive taste cells. Other mevalonate pathway-associated molecules were also detected in mouse taste buds. Behavioral analyses revealed that mice administered risedronate exhibited a significantly enhanced aversion to HCl but not for other basic taste solutions, whereas the taste nerve responses were not affected by risedronate. Additionally, the taste buds of mice administered risedronate exhibited significantly lower mRNA expression of desmoglein-2, an integral component of desmosomes. Taken together, these findings suggest that risedronate may interact directly with FDPS to inhibit the mevalonate pathway in taste bud and tongue epithelial cells, thereby affecting the expression of desmoglein-2 related with epithelial barrier function, which may lead to alterations in behavioral responses to HCl via somatosensory nerves.
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