It’s not unusual to hear about herbicides having suspected toxic effects or prescription drugs producing side effects. But a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study just published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry has found another negative and surprising way common herbicides and fibrate drugs (which are used to lower elevated blood lipids) impact the human body: they block a nutrient-sensing taste receptor on the tongue called T1R3.
So what’s the big deal about this? It turns out there’s emerging evidence these taste receptors are also found in hormone-producing cells in the intestine and pancreas. When working properly, these internal taste receptors in the gut trigger the release of hormones involved in the regulation of normal homeostasis (the ability of the body to maintain internal physiological stability) of glucose as well as energy metabolism. Simply put, screwing up the ability of T1R3 to sense certain nutrients could possibly wreak havoc on the human body in a variety of ways — from playing a role in unhealthy blood sugar levels to causing people to gain weight .
“Compounds that either activate or block T1R3 receptors could have significant metabolic effects, potentially influencing diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome,” said Monell geneticist and study leader Bedrich Mosinger, MD, PhD, in a statement to the media.