Oligosaccharides, a subclass of complex carbohydrates, occur both naturally in foods and as a result of oral starch digestion. We have previously shown that humans can taste maltooligosaccharides (MOS) and that their detection is independent of the canonical sweet taste receptor. While MOSs most commonly occur in a linear form, they can also exist in cyclic structures, referred to as cyclodextrins (CD). The aim of this study was to investigate how the structure of the MOS backbone (i.e. cyclic form) and the size (i.e. degree of polymerization; DP) affect their taste perception. We tested taste detection of cyclodextrins with DP of 6, 7, and 8 (i.e. α-, β-, and γ-CD, respectively) in the presence and absence of lactisole, a sweet receptor antagonist. We found that subjects could detect the taste of cyclodextrins in aqueous solutions at a significant level (P < 0.05), but were not able to detect them in the presence of lactisole (P > 0.05). These findings suggest that the cyclodextrins, unlike their linear analogs, are ligands of the human sweet taste receptor, hT1R2/hT1R3. Study findings are discussed in terms of how chemical structures may contribute to tastes of saccharides.

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