The chorda tympani (CT) nerve is exceptionally responsive to NaCl. Amiloride, an epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) blocker, consistently and significantly decreases the NaCl responsiveness of the CT but not the glossopharyngeal (GL) nerve in the rat. Here, we examined whether amiloride would suppress the NaCl responsiveness of the CT when it cross-reinnervated the posterior tongue (PT). Whole-nerve electrophysiological recording was performed to investigate the response properties of the intact (CTsham), regenerated (CTr), and cross-regenerated (CT-PT) CT in male rats to NaCl mixed with and without amiloride and common taste stimuli. The intact (GLsham) and regenerated (GLr) GL were also examined. The CT responses of the CT-PT group did not differ from those of the GLr and GLsham groups, but did differ from those of the CTr and CTsham groups for some stimuli. Importantly, the responsiveness of the cross-regenerated CT to a series of NaCl concentrations was not suppressed by amiloride treatment, which significantly decreased the response to NaCl in the CTr and CTsham groups and had no effect in the GLr and GLsham groups. This suggests that the cross-regenerated CT adopts the taste response properties of the GL as opposed to those of the regenerated CT or intact CT. This work replicates the 5 decade-old findings of Oakley and importantly extends them by providing compelling evidence that the presence of functional ENaCs, essential for sodium taste recognition in regenerated taste receptor cells, depends on the reinnervated lingual region and not on the reinnervating gustatory nerve, at least in the rat.

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