British Journal of Nutrition

Molecular Nutrition

Up-regulation of intestinal type 1 taste receptor 3 and sodium glucose luminal transporter-1 expression and increased sucrose intake in mice lacking gut microbiota

T. D. Swartza1a2, F. A. Ducaa1a2, T. de Woutersa1a2, Y. Sakara1 and M. Covasaa1 c1

a1 INRA, Centre de Recherche de Jouy-en-Josas, UMR 1319, MICALIS, Neurobiology of Ingestive Behavior, Domaine de Vilvert, 78350 Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, France

a2 University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris, France


The chemosensory components shared by both lingual and intestinal epithelium play a critical role in food consumption and the regulation of intestinal functions. In addition to nutrient signals, other luminal contents, including micro-organisms, are important in signalling across the gastrointestinal mucosa and initiating changes in digestive functions. A potential role of gut microbiota in influencing food intake, energy homeostasis and weight gain has been suggested. However, whether gut microbiota modulates the expression of nutrient-responsive receptors and transporters, leading to altered food consumption, is unknown. Thus, we examined the preference for nutritive (sucrose) and non-nutritive (saccharin) sweet solutions in germ-free (GF, C57BL/6J) mice compared with conventional (CV, C57BL/6J) control mice using a two-bottle preference test. Then, we quantified mRNA and protein expression of the sweet signalling protein type 1 taste receptor 3 (T1R3) and α-gustducin and Na glucose luminal transporter-1 (SGLT-1) of the intestinal epithelium of both CV and GF mice. Additionally, we measured gene expression of T1R2, T1R3 and α-gustducin in the lingual epithelium. We found that, while the preference for sucrose was similar between the groups, GF mice consumed more of the high concentration (8 %) of sucrose solution than CV mice. There was no difference in either the intake of or the preference for saccharin. GF mice expressed significantly more T1R3 and SGLT-1 mRNA and protein in the intestinal epithelium compared with CV mice; however, lingual taste receptor mRNA expression was similar between the groups. We conclude that the absence of intestinal microbiota alters the expression of sweet taste receptors and GLUT in the proximal small intestine, which is associated with increased consumption of nutritive sweet solutions.

(Received January 13 2011)

(Revised May 19 2011)

(Accepted May 20 2011)

(Online publication July 25 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: M. Covasa, fax +33 1 34 65 24 92, email


Abbreviations: CV, conventional; GF, germ free; GI, gastrointestinal; GLP-1, glucagon-like peptide-1; PYY, peptide YY; SGLT-1, Na glucose luminal transporter-1