Odortypes and MHC peptides: Complementary chemosignals of MHC haplotype?

Trends Neurosci. 2006 Nov;29(11):604-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2006.08.001. Epub 2006 Aug 14.


The olfactory and immune systems must perform optimally in the task of recognizing thousands of molecules to ensure survival. A particularly intriguing link between these systems is that animals can smell differences in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a cluster of highly polymorphic genes found on human chromosome 6 and mouse chromosome 17. Two different sets of compounds found in urine have been postulated to convey information on MHC haplotype: volatile compounds (odortypes) and MHC peptides. Here we argue for complementary roles for these chemosignals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cues*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Generalization, Psychological
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Odorants*
  • Peptides / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Urine / chemistry*
  • Urine / physiology*


  • Peptides