Consumption of dietary fats is critical for survival.
Essential fatty acids found in our diet provide the building blocks of a variety of molecules that regulate cellular function and communication, including the
eicosanoid signaling molecules, the endocannabinoids.
Indeed, the endocannabinoid system is an important regulator of feeding, energy balance, and reward.
This endogenous lipid signaling system is located
throughout all organs in mammals (and possibly other
animals), and is comprised of the endocannabinoids,
their receptors (cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors),
and enzymes that synthesize and break them down
(see Fig. 1). In general, activation of the endocannabinoid system increases food intake, while inhibiting its
activity reduces food intake and body weight. Recent
evidence from our group suggests that the endocannabinoid system may serve as a fatty acid sensor, which
drives us to consume foods containing high levels of
dietary fats [ 1].
Considerable debate has been focused on the question whether fat taste
should be considered a sixth primary taste quality along with sweet,
sour, bitter, salty and umami. In 2015, fat made it to the ranks as a taste
primary, and was given the name “oleogustus” (Latin for fat taste) by the
taste researcher Richard D. Mattes, Distinguished Professor at Purdue
University in Lafayette, Indiana, USA [ 2].
Dietary fats are detected in the oral cavity by receptors (e.g.,
CD36) that participate in transducing the presence of fat in the mouth
into electrical signals carried to the brain by several cranial nerves [ 3].
signaling as a
fatty acid sensor