Gene May Make Sweat Smell Sweet
Gene Variation May Explain Why People Like or Detest the Smell of Men's Sweat
Sept. 17, 2007 -- Ah, the sweet smell of ... men's sweat? Scientists report
that to some noses, male sweat chemicals smell pleasant -- and a certain gene
may be why.
The sense of smell is highly personal. One person's favorite fragrance may
make someone else wrinkle their nose.
A new study, published online in the journal Nature, hints at the
genetic roots of those preferences.
The study shows that some people like the smell of the male sweat chemicals
androstenone and androstadienone, while other people detest the smell of those
Those differing opinions may be due to variations in a certain gene,
according to Duke University researcher Hiroaki Matsunami, PhD, and
"While many theories of different perceptions of smell focus on culture,
experience, or memory, our results show that an important portion of this
variability is due to an individual's genes," Matsunami says in a news
The Nose Knows
Matsunami's team asked nearly 400 people to smell androstenone and
androstadienone in test tubes.
Some people found the smell pleasant and similar to the smell of vanilla.
Others strongly disliked the scent and said it smelled like urine.
People with certain variations in the OR7D4 gene were more likely to like
the smell of androstenone and androstadienone, which are related to
"We found that genetic variations of a specific odor receptor determine,
to a significant degree, why the same chemicals smell pleasant or unpleasant to
different people," Matsunami says in the release.
The OR7D4 gene probably isn't the only gene that governs whether people
enjoy or detest the smell of men's sweat, note Matsunami and colleagues.
(Do you find that some
sweaty guys smell sexier to you than others? Share your experiences on
WebMD's Sexuality: Friends Talking message board.)