The pungency of garlic: Activation of TRPA1 and TRPV1 in response to allicin

Lindsey J. Macpherson, Bernhard H. Geierstanger, Veena Viswanath, Michael Bandell, Samer R. Eid, Sun Wook Hwang, Ardem Patapoutian

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413 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Garlic's pungent flavor has made it a popular ingredient in cuisines around the world and throughout history. Garlic's health benefits have been elevated from folklore to clinical study [1-5]. Although there is some controversy as to the efficacy of garlic, garlic products are one of the most popular herbal supplements in the U.S. [6]. Chemically complex, garlic contains different assortments of sulfur compounds depending on whether the cloves are intact, crushed, cooked, or raw [7]. Raw garlic, when cut and placed on the tongue or lips, elicits painful burning and prickling sensations through unknown mechanisms. Here, we show that raw but not baked garlic activates TRPA1 and TRPV1, two temperature-activated ion channels that belong to the transient receptor potential (TRP) family [8-12]. These thermoTRPs are present in the pain-sensing neurons that innervate the mouth. We further show that allicin, an unstable component of fresh garlic, is the chemical responsible for TRPA1 and TRPV1 activation and is therefore likely to cause garlic's pungency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-934
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume15
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005 May 24

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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    Macpherson, L. J., Geierstanger, B. H., Viswanath, V., Bandell, M., Eid, S. R., Hwang, S. W., & Patapoutian, A. (2005). The pungency of garlic: Activation of TRPA1 and TRPV1 in response to allicin. Current Biology, 15(10), 929-934. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2005.04.018