Author(s): Fischer ME, Cruickshanks KJ, Schubert CR, Pinto A, Klein R, Pankratz N, Pankow JS, Huang GH. Factors related to fungiform papillae density: the Beaver Dam Offspring Study. Chem Senses. 2013 Oct;38(8):669-77. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjt033. Epub 2013 Jul 2. PMID 23821729
Journal: Chemical Senses, Volume 38, Issue 8, Oct 2013
The distribution of fungiform papillae density and associated factors were examined in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study. Data were from 2371 participants (mean age = 48.8 years, range = 21-84 years) with 1108 males and 1263 females. Fungiform papillae were highlighted with blue food coloring and the number of fungiform papillae within a standard 6-mm circle was counted. Whole mouth suprathreshold taste intensity was measured. The mean fungiform papillae density was 103.5 papillae/cm(2) (range = 0-212.2 papillae/cm(2)). For each 5-year increase in age, the mean fungiform papillae density was 2.8 papillae/cm(2) lower and the mean density for males was 10.2 papillae/cm(2) lower than for females. Smokers had significantly lower mean densities (former smokers: -5.1 papillae/cm(2); current smokers: -9.3 papillae/cm(2)) than nonsmokers, and heavy alcohol drinkers had a mean density that was 4.7 papillae/cm(2) lower than nonheavy drinkers. Solvent exposure was related to a significantly higher density (+6.8 papillae/cm(2)). The heritability estimate for fungiform papillae density was 40.2%. Propylthiouracil taster status, TAS2R38 haplotype, and perceived taste intensity were not related to density. In summary, wide variability in fungiform papillae density was observed and a number of related factors were found including the modifiable factors of smoking and alcohol consumption.