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Dysregulation of thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine (T3/T4) can impact metabolism, body composition, and development. Thus, it is critical to identify novel mechanisms that impact T3/T4 production. We found that type 2 taste receptors (TAS2Rs), which are activated by bitter-tasting compounds such as those found in many foods and pharmaceuticals, negatively regulate thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-dependent Ca2+ increases and TSH-dependent iodide efflux in thyrocytes. A common TAS2R42 polymorphism is associated with increased serum T4 levels in a human cohort.

Key Findings

Our findings indicate that TAS2Rs couple the detection of bitter-tasting compounds to changes in thyrocyte function and T3/T4 production. Thus, TAS2Rs may mediate a protective response to overingestion of toxic materials and could serve as new druggable targets for therapeutic treatment of hypo- or hyperthyroidism.


  • Clark AA, Dotson CD, Elson AE, Voigt A, Boehm U, Meyerhof W, Steinle NI, Munger SD. TAS2R bitter taste receptors regulate thyroid function. FASEB J. 2015 Jan;29(1):164-72. PMID: 25342133; PMCID: PMC4285546.

Read More: FASEB Journal

Research Details

  • Research Center: Mid-Atlantic, Maryland
  • Center Contribution: The Mid-Atlantic NORC provided genotyping and statistical analysis support for this project.

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