The detection threshold and taste characteristics of sanshools were examined by sensory evaluation, after isolating four sanshools (α-, β-, γ-, and δ-), and two hydroxy sanshools (α- and β-) from the pericarp of Japanese pepper. The Scoville unit (SU) values of the four sanshools were in the range of 80,000–110,000, while those of hydroxy sanshools were 3–5 fold lower than corresponding sanshools. The pungent qualities of each sanshool were different. Burning and tingling were predominantly perceived and lasted for the longest time with α-sanshool. Burning and fresh for γ-sanshool, and tingling and numbing for hydroxy α-sanshool were perceived. Tests on the activation of rat TRPV1 were also performed. All of them were weak agonists. Among them, γ-sanshool was the most potent agonist, although its EC50 value of 5.3 μM was 230 fold higher than that of capsaicin. These results indicate that it would be difficult to explain the pungent quality of each sanshool simply in terms of TRPV1 activation.
2005 by Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry