Taste genes may predict tooth decay

Genetic variation in taste pathway genes may be associated with dental caries risk and/or protection, according to a new study in the Journal of Dental Research (JDR, September 21, 2010).

In this study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University recruited families through the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA) to collect biological samples and demographic data and to do clinical assessments of oral health, including caries scores.

Multiple single nucleotide polymorphism assays for each gene were performed and analyzed using transmission disequilibrium test analysis for three dentition groups: primary, mixed, and permanent. Statistically significant associations were seen in two genes -- TAS2R38 and TAS1R2 -- for caries risk and/or protection, the researchers reported.

"This work is significant in that it identifies key genes that may explain the susceptibilities of some patients to tooth decay," said JDR Editor-in-Chief William Giannobile in a press release. "Although an early study, this breakthrough on taste pathways and genes demonstrates how patient preferences that are genetically predetermined may put patients at risk for disease."

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