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Changes in the odor quality of androstadienone during exposure-induced sensitization

Jacob, Timothy John Claud, Wang, Liwei, Jaffer, Sajjida and McPhee, Sara 2005. Changes in the odor quality of androstadienone during exposure-induced sensitization. Chemical Senses 31 (1) , pp. 3-8. 10.1093/chemse/bji073

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Androstadienone is a steroid found in human sweat and other secretions. It has been widely proposed as a candidate for a human pheromone. As an odorant it possesses some unique properties. Here we demonstrate that, firstly, there is a very wide range of thresholds in the human population, and they are not normally distributed. Secondly, repetitive exposure causes a decrease in detection threshold of more than four orders of magnitude, and thirdly, accompanying this sensitization process is a change in the perceived odor quality. Those with low to intermediate sensitivities ascribe to it a wide range of odor descriptors across the hedonic scale, but as these individuals become sensitized, their description changes to predominantly putrid. We propose that this change in odor quality reflects the presence of at least two receptor populations for androstadienone; a low-affinity receptor conveying pleasant odor qualities and a high-affinity receptor mediating unpleasant odor qualities. We further propose that repetitive exposure results in the increased expression of the high-affinity receptor thereby shifting the balance of perception to the negative end of the hedonic scale.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
Uncontrolled Keywords: odor; olfaction; olfactory; pheromone; smell
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0379-864X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:35

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