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Thursday, February 26, 2009

2009 paper on underarm body odor : Acid odor precursors in axillary secretions

This is a newly published medical paper about underarm body odor by a group of researchers at a Swiss fragrance company. They have done quite a bit of research over the years on this subject. At first glance, they seem to be saying that body odor can depend on certain compounds internally produced in the sweat. Perhaps they are then broken down by certain types of bacteria and this is why many people could probably not bathe at all and be smell-free, whilst others seem to have problems if they miss a few hours or forget to use anti-perspirant.

Gender-specific differences between the concentrations of nonvolatile (R)/(S)-3-methyl-3-sulfanylhexan-1-Ol and (R)/(S)-3-hydroxy-3-methyl-hexanoic acid odor precursors in axillary secretions.

Firmenich SA, Corporate R&D Division, PO Box 239, CH-1211 Geneva 8, Switzerland.

The volatile fatty acid, (R)/(S)-3-hydroxy-3-methylhexanoic acid ((R)/(S)-HMHA), and the human specific volatile thiol, (R)/(S)-3-methyl-3-sulfanylhexan-1-ol ((R)/(S)-MSH), were recently identified as major components of human sweat malodor. Their 2 corresponding precursors were subsequently isolated from sterile and odorless axillary secretions. The purpose of this work was to analyze these 2 odor precursors in 49 male and female volunteers over a period of 3 years to elucidate to which extent they are implicated in the gender-specific character of body odor. Surprisingly, the ratio between the acid precursor 1, a glutamine conjugate, and the "sulfur" precursor 2, a cysteinylglycine-S-conjugate, was 3 times higher in men than in women with no correlation with either the sweat volume or the protein concentration. Indeed, women have the potential to liberate significantly more (R)/(S)-MSH, which has a tropical fruit- and onion-like odor than (R)/(S)-HMHA (possibly transformed into (E)/(Z)-3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid) that has a cheesy, rancid odor. Parallel to this work, sensory analysis on sweat incubated with isolated skin bacteria (Staphylococcus epidermidis Ax3, Corynebacterium jeikeium American Type Culture Collection 43217, or Staphylococcus haemolyticus Ax4) confirmed that intrinsic composition of sweat is important for the development of body odors and may be modulated by gender differences in bacterial compositions. Sweat samples having the highest sulfur intensity were also found to be the most intense and the most unpleasant.

The head researcher in the paper has also patented some type of anti underarm body odor product


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