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Body odour of monozygotic human twins: a common pattern of odorant carboxylic acids released by a bacterial aminoacylase from axilla secretions contributing to an inherited body odour type

By Fabian Kuhn and Andreas Natsch


It is currently not fully established whether human individuals have a genetically determined, individual-specific body odour. Volatile carboxylic acids are a key class of known human body odorants. They are released from glutamine conjugates secreted in axillary skin by a specific Nα-acyl-glutamine-aminoacylase present in skin bacteria. Here, we report a quantitative investigation of these odorant acids in 12 pairs of monozygotic twins. Axilla secretions were sampled twice and treated with the Nα-acyl-glutamine-aminoacylase. The released acids were analysed as their methyl esters with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography and time-of-flight mass spectrometry detection. The pattern of the analytes was compared with distance analysis. The distance was lowest between samples of the right and the left axilla taken on the same day from the same individual. It was clearly greater if the same subject was sampled on different days, but this intra-individual distance between samples was only slightly lower than the distance between samples taken from two monozygotic twins. A much greater distance was observed when comparing unrelated individuals. By applying cluster and principal component analyses, a clear clustering of samples taken from one pair of monozygotic twins was also confirmed. In conclusion, the specific pattern of precursors for volatile carboxylic acids is subject to a day-to-day variation, but there is a strong genetic contribution. Therefore, humans have a genetically determined body odour type that is at least partly composed of these odorant acids

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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