Dysgeusia (abnormal taste) is common in those with chronic kidney disease and contributes to poor nutritional intake. Previous sensory work has shown that taste improves after dialysis sessions. The goal of this pilot study was to characterize altered taste perceptions in patients on dialysis compared with healthy adults, and to evaluate relationships between serum parameters with taste perceptions. We hypothesized that patients undergoing dialysis would experience blunted taste intensities compared with controls, and that serum levels of potential tastants would be inversely related to taste perception of compounds. Using a cross-sectional design, we carried out suprathreshold sensory assessments (flavor intensity and liking) of tastants/flavors potentially influenced by kidney disease and/or the dialysis procedure. These included sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium phosphate, phosphoric acid, urea, ferrous sulfate, and monosodium glutamate. Individuals on maintenance hemodialysis (n= 17, 10 males, range 23–87 years) were compared with controls with normal gustatory function (n=29, 13 males, range 21–61 years). Unadjusted values for intensity and liking for the solutions showed minimal differences. However, when values were adjusted for participants’ perceptions of water (as a control for taste abnormalities), intensity of monosodium glutamate, sodium chloride, and sodium phosphate solutions were more intense for patients on dialysis compared with controls. Some significant correlations were also observed between serum parameters, particularly potassium, for dialysis patients and sensory ratings. These results suggest altered taste perception in patients during dialysis warrants further study.

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