Why are some people more sensitive to the smell of sweat?

In a global team-effort, scientists, including NOSE member Monique Smeets, discovered genetic variants linked to the perception of the musky scent of galaxolide and 3M2H, a compound found in body odour with the characteristics smell of sweat, allowing them to identify the odour receptors involved in the detection of these scents in humans for the first time. These findings help us better understand individual differences in odour perception. Not being able to smell galaxolide or 3M2H can be due to having a particular genetic variant of the odour receptor involved in the perception of these respective odours. This discovery is one step towards solving the mysterious puzzle that is our sense of smell, and with 400 genes encoding for our sense of smell, there is still a long way to go!

Please find an interview with Dr Joel Mainland, co-author of the research from the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in the Guardian:


The article, published in PLoS Genetics, can be found here:

Li B, Kamarck ML, Peng Q, Lim F-L, Keller A, Smeets MAM, et al. (2022) From musk to body odor: Decoding olfaction through genetic variation. PLoS Genet 18(2): e1009564. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009564

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