Flavor compounds provide aroma and sensations in the oral cavity. They are not present alone in the oral cavity, but rather in combination with several other food ingredients. This study aimed to clarify the relationship between the mixing of pungent flavor compounds and the response of pungent receptors, TRPV1 and TRPA1 channels. We focused on lactones that activate TRPV1 despite their presence in bland foods, such as dairy products and fruits, and analyzed their interaction with receptors using TRPV1- and TRPA1-expressing HEK293 cells. We found that γ-octalactone, γ-nonalactone, and δ-nonalactone activated TRPA1. When mixed with pungent components, some γ- and δ-lactones inhibited capsaicin-mediated TRPV1 responses, and δ-dodecalactone inhibited allyl isothiocyanate-mediated TRPA1 responses. Furthermore, the dose–response relationship of capsaicin and γ-nonalactone to TRPV1 suggests that γ-nonalactone acts as an agonist or antagonist of TRPV1, depending on its concentration. Conversely, γ-nonalactone and δ-dodecalactone were found to act only as agonists and antagonists, respectively, against TRPA1. These results suggest that lactones in foods may not only endow food with aroma, but also play a role in modulating food pungency by acting on TRPV1 and TRPA1. The dose–response relationships of a mixture of flavor compounds with TRPV1 and TRPA1 provide insights into the molecular physiological basis of pungency that may be the cornerstone for developing new spice mix recipes.

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