We tested the hypothesis that sex differences in preference for NaCl are attributable to estrogen-mediated alterations in gustatory processing. Electrophysiological responses of the chorda tympani nerve to NaCl were blunted by estrogen treatment in ovariectomized female rats, suggesting that females are less sensitive to concentrated NaCl solutions during high estrogen conditions. In contrast, after a taste aversion was conditioned to 150-mM NaCl, estrogen- and oil-treated ovariectomized rats generalized the aversion to a lower concentration of NaCl than did males, suggesting that females are more sensitive to the taste of dilute NaCl solutions regardless of estrogen. Thus, sex differences in NaCl preferences may be attributable to differences in NaCl taste processing that involve both acute and developmental effects of estrogen.
- Detection threshold
- Sodium chloride