Thus, the most suitable alternative is to mask the taste of these bitter loci. The oral route is considered the most convenient and easy route of drug delivery. Pediatric and geriatric populations are most sensitive to the bad taste of medicaments. Also, currently there is a rising trend to formulate drugs in the form of orally disintegrating dosage forms due to their easy ingestion and absorption process .
Thus, in these cases a good taste is indispensable to patient compliance.
Moreover, high palatability gives a competitive advantage, especially in the case of over-the-counter products. In this review, we will discuss how taste is perceived, what techniques are available for taste masking, selection of appropriate taste masking technique, and evaluation tests for the same. Taste is a sensory response to chemical stimulation of taste receptors by tastants . There are five basic tastes that have been identified: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami . Of these, bitter taste perception is considered the most complex modality . Earlier theory of taste perception was based on taste map, wherein distinct areas of the tongue were shown to respond to certain stimuli .
However, according to the latest theory, all taste buds respond to all stimuli . Taste buds are onion-shaped structures comprising 50 to taste receptor cells .
The tastants interact with surface proteins as in the case of sweet and bitter taste known as taste receptors or with pore-like proteins as in the case of sour and salty taste called ion channels. These interactions lead to electrical changes within the taste cells that trigger them to send chemical signals that transform into neurotransmission to the brain [13,14]. The brain then perceives the signal as bitter, salty, sweet, sour, or umami. An appropriate taste masking technique can affect both product quality and process effectiveness. Following are various taste masking techniques that can be used to taste mask bitter Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient API :.
Appropriate selection of a taste masking technique is a must for developing a palatable and economical formulation. Figure 1 illustrates drug properties that are to be considered while selecting a taste masking technique. For instance, a drug that is extremely bitter cannot be taste masked with sweeteners or flavorants alone, and intermediary techniques like coating or matrix entrapment should be used. An ionic drug can be taste masked with ion exchange resins. A lipophilic drug can be taste masked by entrapping it into a lipoidal matrix.
Figure 2 illustrates various economical aspects to be considered when selecting a taste masking technique.
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Although variations are possible, in general simple techniques are more economical as compared to intermediary ones. Taste is a very subjective perception. In vivo tests such as human panel testing and frog taste nerve responses can be used to evaluate taste of formulations. In human panel testing, large groups of healthy volunteers are asked to take bitter drug and then the taste masked formulation.
They are then asked to comparatively rate the formulation on various organoleptic properties [45,46]. In frog taste nerve responses, glossopharyngeal nerve of bull frogs is connected to AC amplifier and responses to bitter drug and formulation are taken. The peak height obtained is used to assess taste masking .
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