Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 1469–1492 | Cite as

Analysis of characteristic odors from human male axillae

  • Xiao -nong Zeng
  • James J. Leyden
  • Henry J. Lawley
  • Kiyohito Sawano
  • Isao Nohara
  • George Preti


A number of studies concerning the analysis of axillary odors have assumed that the characteristic odor produced in the axillae is due to volatile steroids and isovaleric acid. Organoleptic evaluation of Chromatographic eluants from axillary extracts was employed to isolate the region in the chromatogram where the characteristic odor eluted. The odor of the dissolved eluant was eliminated when it was treated with base, suggesting that acids make up the characteristic axillary odor. Subsequent extraction of the pH-adjusted axillary extract in conjunction with organoleptic evaluation of the Chromatographic eluant, preparative gas chromatography, and analysis by GC-MS as well as GC-FTIR showed the presence of a number of C6 to C11 straight-chain, branched, and unsaturated acids as important contributors to the axillary odor. The major odor component is (E)-3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid. Three homologous series of minor components are also important odor contributors; these consist of the terminally unsaturated acids, the 2-methyl-C6 to -C10 acids and the 4-ethyl-C5 to -C11 acids. These types of acids have not been reported previously as components of the human axillary secretions and have not been proposed previously as part of the principal odor components in this area.

Key Words

Axillary odors (E)-3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid androstenone human axillary secretions malodors 7-octenoic acid 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao -nong Zeng
    • 1
  • James J. Leyden
    • 2
  • Henry J. Lawley
    • 1
  • Kiyohito Sawano
    • 3
  • Isao Nohara
    • 3
  • George Preti
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Monell Chemical Senses CenterPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Department of DermatologySchool of Medicine Hospital of the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
  3. 3.Takasago International CorporationTokyoJapan

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