, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 107-114

4,5-Dimethyl-3-hydroxy-2[5H]-furanone (sotolone) — The odour of maple syrup urine disease

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Maple syrup urine disease is an autosomal recessive inherited disorder of branched-chain amino acid metabolism due to deficiency of the branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenase complex. The disease was originally named after the characteristic sweet aroma, reminiscent of maple syrup, present in the body fluids of affected patients. Until now, the substance responsible for the odour has not been positively identified. Using enantioselective multidimensional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (enantio-MDGC-MS), we could demonstrate that 4,5-dimethyl-3-hydroxy-2[5H]-furanone (sotolone), a well-known flavour impact compound present in fenugreek and lovage, was present in urine from seven patients with maple syrup urine disease. Urine samples from healthy control persons lacked sotolone. We have shown that sotolone is responsible for the characteristic odour of maple syrup urine disease and, since maple syrup also contains sotolone, the naming of this disease appears to be correct.