Taste perception in cirrhosis : its relationship to circulating micronutrients and food preferences
Madden, A M
Morgan, M Y
Impairment of gustatory acuity may influence nutrient intake and hence nutritional status. The aim of this study was to evaluate gustatory acuity in patients with cirrhosis and its relationship to circulating concentrations of micronutrients, and food preferences. Gustatory evaluation was undertaken, using a rinsing technique, in 75 cirrhotic patients and 75 comparable healthy volunteers. Circulating concentrations of magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, and alpha- and beta-carotene were measured, and food preferences were assessed by questionnaire. The cirrhotic patients showed impaired gustatory function with significantly higher (less sensitive) median thresholds for detection of salt, sweet, and sour and for recognition of bitter, salt, sweet, and sour, together with a higher overall median gustatory score (P <.0001). Mean circulating concentrations of magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, and alpha- and beta-carotene were significantly lower in the patient population. Serum magnesium was significantly negatively associated with detection of salt (P = .02) and gustatory score (P = .02). Patients' subjective assessment of taste acuity did not correspond with objective measurements. Overall, no differences were observed in food preferences between the two groups, nor was any association found between food preferences and gustatory acuity. Patients with cirrhosis have impaired gustatory acuity that is associated with hypomagnesemia but apparently does not affect food selection.