to the webpages of the CD-Laboratory for Taste Research at the Department of Physiological Chemistry.



Excessive consumption of sugar is a major cause of the rising prevalence of overweight. This CD laboratory researches alternative sweeteners, their taste profile and their effect on metabolism.

Using a combined approach of sensory, computer-aided and molecular biological methods as well as human studies, the CD-Laboratory for Taste Research aims to establish a structure-activity relationship for substances relevant to the perception of sweetness and to investigate their effects on different cell systems beyond the perception of sweetness.



The worldwide prevalence of overweight and obesity and their secondary diseases such as coronary heart disease and impaired lipid and/or glucose metabolism have reached epidemic dimensions over the past decades.

Also in Austria more than 40% of adults are regarded overweight or obese. The fundamental cause of weight gain is an imbalance between the calories ingested and those consumed: an inactive lifestyle combined with excessive energy intake are evidence-based factors in the development of obesity.

Sweetened drinks containing calorie sweeteners contribute a large proportion of total calorie intake. One way to avoid the problem of increased energy intake from sweetened foods and beverages is to use so-called "light" products. These use sweeteners with no calorific value (so-called high intensity sweeteners, HIS) or those with only a very low calorific value (e.g. sugar alcohols) as an alternative to sugar. Although all these substances taste sweet, there are differences in their sensory profile. Some sweeteners have a metallic or bitter aftertaste, others have a long-lasting aftertaste. Furthermore, there are differences in the duration until the onset of sweetness perception, its duration and its decay.

Sweet taste is mediated by the sweet receptor, T1R2/T1R3, which is not only present on the tongue but also in the digestive system, on fat cells and other organs. Differences in the sensory profile could be caused by differences in receptor binding and activation of other receptors and ion channels. However, a clear structure-activity relationship and suitable models to predict sweet taste or sweet taste modulating effects with a similar profile to sugar do not yet exist. Furthermore, there is evidence that oral and extraoral sweet receptors may play a role in the development of diabetes mellitus type 2 and that in this context, non-sugar sweeteners are not inert substances but may very well interfere with lipid and glucose metabolism.