Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

Sweet, Sour, Salty ... and Fizzy?

Sour-Sensitive Taste Cells Respond to Carbon Dioxide
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 15, 2009 -- Carbonated drinks may do more than tickle and fizz; they also trigger taste receptor cells, a new study shows.

The study, published in Science, shows that the same taste receptor cells that pick up sour tastes are also activated by carbon dioxide.

That finding comes from lab tests done on mice that were genetically engineered to sideline their sour taste receptor cells.

Those mice responded to every type of taste except sour; they also didn't respond to carbon dioxide.

That sensitivity to carbonation may have evolved as a warning sign of fermenting food, or maybe it's part of the pH balance within taste buds, write the researchers, who included Jayaram Chandrashekar, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego.

"The 'fizz' and 'tingle of heavily carbonated water is often likened to mild acidic stimulation of the tongue, and in some cultures seltzer is even named for its salient sour taste (e.g., saurer Sprudel or Sauerwasser)," Chandrashekar and colleagues write.

Today on WebMD

Woman trying clothes / dress
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Hot cup of coffee
woman shopping fresh produce
butter curl on knife
eating out healthy
Smiling woman, red hair
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens

Special Sections