Infection and body odours: evolutionary and medical perspectives

Infect Genet Evol. 2009 Sep;9(5):1006-9. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2009.04.018. Epub 2009 May 9.


Infections are often followed by a change in body odours. For a long time, these changes were considered as non-specific (with no adaptive value) but recent evidences suggest that this may not always be true. Odour modifications due to an infection may either be of adaptive value for the parasite or the host. Here, we describe the observations in support of this idea, discuss the potential roles these modifications may play for the parasite and the host and propose a set of future directions that we think should allow to better understand the mechanisms at the origin of these modifications and how they may be used by both parasites and their human hosts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infections / physiopathology*
  • Odorants*