Sophorolipid Reduces Bitter Taste in Humans In Vivo and In Vitro

Mehmet Hakan Ozdener, Andrew I. Spielman, Paul M. Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bitter taste warns us against ingesting toxic chemicals but can also discourage consumption of healthful nutrients and prescribed medications. Thus, discovery of ingredients to reduce bitterness is an important research priority. The potential bitter-taste-blocking effect of sophorolipids has recently been reported. Sophorolipids are biosurfactant glycolipids normally synthesized via yeast fermentation. In the current experiments, the effect of sophorolipid on bitter taste was evaluated using both cultured human taste papillae (HBO) cells and in vivo sensory experiments with human tasters. Sophorolipids significantly reduced responses of HBO cells to a mixture of diverse bitter compounds. Human participants rated the bitterness of a mixture of diverse bitter compounds as less intensely bitter both after prerinsing with a sophorolipid solution and when sophorolipids were added to the mixture. Taken together, these results suggest that sophorolipids may reduce perceived bitterness in humans, at least in part by acting on peripheral mechanisms. Although further work is needed to confirm these findings and determine the exact mechanism(s) of action, thus far sophorolipids show promise as candidate ingredients to reduce bitterness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-948
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surfactants and Detergents
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Bitter blocking
  • HBO taste cells
  • Sophorolipid
  • Taste psychophysics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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