Individual differences in sensitivity to the odor of 4,16-androstadien-3-one

Chem Senses. 2003 Sep;28(7):643-50. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjg057.


Individual differences in sensitivity to the putative human pheromone androstadienone were investigated in three experiments. In experiment 1, the absolute detection threshold for androstadienone was determined to be 211 micro M using the method of constant stimuli. Detection for the related compound estratetraenol was also investigated but a threshold could not be determined. In experiment 2, using an adaptive threshold test on 100 participants, the sensitivity distribution for androstadienone, but not for the reference odor phenylethyl alcohol, was bimodal, with a smaller group of individuals with a high sensitivity to androstadienone (supersmellers). A lack of correlation between thresholds for androstadienone and phenylethyl alcohol further suggested that the bimodality for androstadienone was not due to individuals with a high general olfactory sensitivity. In line with an earlier observation, there was a statistical tendency for women to be more sensitive to androstadienone than men. Results of experiment 3 preclude the possibility that the bimodal sensitivity distribution for androstadienone would depend on individual differences in trigeminal activation. Altogether, the current study suggests that olfactory sensitivity to androstadienone is bimodally distributed in the population with a subgroup consisting of highly sensitive people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androstadienes / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odorants
  • Sensory Thresholds*
  • Smell / drug effects
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Androstadienes
  • 4,16-androstadien-3-one