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, 27 (6), 1261-5

Smelling a Single Component of Male Sweat Alters Levels of Cortisol in Women

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Smelling a Single Component of Male Sweat Alters Levels of Cortisol in Women

Claire Wyart et al. J Neurosci.

Abstract

Rodents use chemosignals to alter endocrine balance in conspecifics. Although responses to human sweat suggest a similar mechanism in humans, no particular component of human sweat capable of altering endocrine balance in conspecifics has yet been isolated and identified. Here, we measured salivary levels of the hormone cortisol in women after smelling pure androstadienone (4,16-androstadien-3-one), a molecule present in the sweat of men that has been suggested as a chemosignal in humans. We found that merely smelling androstadienone maintained significantly higher levels of the hormone cortisol in women. These results suggest that, like rodents, humans can influence the hormonal balance of conspecifics through chemosignals. Critically, this study identified a single component of sweat, androstadienone, as capable of exerting such influence. This result points to a potential role for synthetic human chemosignals in clinical applications.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Smelling androstadienone altered mood and autonomic physiology. Androstadienone is shown in the white bars and control in the black bars. A–C, All variables are shown as a change from baseline in z-score. Smelling AND maintained better mood (A), higher sexual arousal (B), and a higher physiological composite index (C).
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Smelling androstadienone maintained higher levels of salivary cortisol. Androstadienone is shown in the white bars, and control in the black bars. Smelling AND maintained higher levels of cortisol (A) as a change from baseline in z-score, and in absolute levels of cortisol (B).

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