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Taste responses in patients with Parkinson’s disease
  1. H Sienkiewicz-Jarosz1,
  2. A Scinska3,
  3. W Kuran1,
  4. D Ryglewicz1,
  5. A Rogowski2,
  6. E Wrobel2,
  7. A Korkosz2,
  8. A Kukwa3,
  9. W Kostowski2,4,
  10. P Bienkowski2
  1. 1I Department of Neurology, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland
  2. 2Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland
  3. 3Department of Otolaryngology, Faculty of Dentistry, Warsaw Medical Academy, Warsaw, Poland
  4. 4Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Warsaw Medical Academy, Warsaw, Poland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr P Bienkowski
 Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Sobieskiego 9 St., 02-957 Warsaw, Poland;


Objective: Preclinical studies indicate that dopaminergic transmission in the basal ganglia may be involved in processing of both pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. Given this, the aim of the present study was to assess taste responses to sweet, bitter, sour, and salty substances in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Methods: Rated intensity and pleasantness of filter paper discs soaked in sucrose (10–60%), quinine (0.025–0.5%), citric acid (0.25–4.0%), or sodium chloride (1.25–20%) solutions was evaluated in 30 patients with PD and in 33 healthy controls. Paper discs soaked in deionised water served as control stimuli. In addition, reactivity to 100 ml samples of chocolate and vanilla milk was assessed in both groups. Taste detection thresholds were assessed by means of electrogustometry. Sociodemographic and neuropsychiatric data, including cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, tea and coffee drinking, depressive symptoms, and cognitive functioning were collected.

Results: In general, perceived intensity, pleasantness, and identification of the sucrose, quinine, citric acid, or sodium chloride samples did not differ between the PD patients and controls. Intensity ratings of the filter papers soaked in 0.025% quinine were significantly higher in the PD patients compared with the control group. No inter-group differences were found in taste responses to chocolate and vanilla milk. Electrogustometric thresholds were significantly (p = 0.001) more sensitive in the PD patients.

Conclusions: PD is not associated with any major alterations in responses to pleasant or unpleasant taste stimuli. Patients with PD may present enhanced taste acuity in terms of electrogustometric threshold.

  • ANOVA, analysis of variance
  • AUDIT, Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test
  • BDI, Beck Depression Inventory
  • l-dopa, l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • MMSE, Mini Mental State Examination
  • PD, Parkinson’s disease
  • rCBF, regional cerebral blood flow
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • taste intensity
  • taste pleasantness
  • electrogustometric threshold

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  • Competing interests: none declared

  • The first two authors contributed equally to this work.