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Genetic variant linked to odor perception
Date:9/16/2007

the samples and correlating the results with the smell descriptions, we were able to link specific genetic variants with specific perceptions, Matsunami said. While many theories of the different perceptions of smell focus on culture, experience or memory, our results show that an important portion of this variability is due to an individuals genes.

Matsunami added that these results will likely add to the debate over the existence of pheromones in humans. Pheromones are chemical signals between animals that express alarm, mating and navigation cues. In other species, they've been found to trigger behavioral changes in the smeller.

The sex-steroid odors that we tested in humans act as pheromones in pigs, and there has been debate whether these same chemicals act similarly in humans, Matsunami said. There is evidence that smelling these odors can affect the mood and physiological state of both men and women.

Matsunami and his colleagues plan further studies to understand how smelling these chemicals might affect human social and sexual behavior.

He added that there are likely other receptors and receptor variants that may also play roles in how these two chemicals are perceived. Since it is known that there are about 400 specific smell receptors and humans can detect more than 10,000 different odors, it follows that different combinations of receptor genes and variants must be involved in perceiving each odor, he said.


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Contact: Richard Merritt
Merri006@mc.duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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