Human Male Superiority in Olfactory Sensitivity to the Sperm Attractant Odorant Bourgeonal
2010 (English)In: Chemical Senses, ISSN 0379-864X, E-ISSN 1464-3553, Vol. 35, no 5, 427-432 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Recent studies have shown that sperm chemotaxis critically involves the human olfactory receptor OR1D2, which is activated bythe aromatic aldehyde bourgeonal. Given that both natural and sexual selection may act upon the expression of receptors, wehypothesized that human males are more sensitive than human females for bourgeonal. Using a 3-alternative forced-choicetest procedure, olfactory detection thresholds were determined for a total of 500 subjects, 250 males, and 250 femalesbetween 18 and 40 years of age. We found that male subjects detected bourgeonal at significantly lower concentrations(mean value: 13 ppb) compared with female subjects (mean value: 26 ppb), whereas no such gender difference in olfactorysensitivity was found with helional, a structural analog of bourgeonal, and with n-pentyl acetate, an aliphatic ester, which weretested in parallel. Males and females did not differ in their frequency of specific anosmia for any of the 3 odorants. Thefrequency distributions of olfactory detection thresholds were monomodal with all 3 odorants in both genders. Olfactorydetection thresholds did not differ significantly between pre- and postovulatory females with any of the 3 odorants. To the bestof our knowledge, this is the first study ever to find a human male superiority in olfactory sensitivity. Single nucleotidepolymorphisms and/or copy number variations in genes coding for olfactory receptors may be the proximate cause for ourfinding, whereas a gender difference in the behavioral relevance of bourgeonal may be the ultimate cause.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Oxford University Press , 2010. Vol. 35, no 5, 427-432 p.
bourgeonal, gender differences, ofactory thresholds
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-56471DOI: 10.1093/chemse/bjq030ISI: 000277986600008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-56471DiVA: diva2:319484