What determines human body odour?

Exp Dermatol. 2014 May;23(5):316-7. doi: 10.1111/exd.12380.


Human body odour and earwax type are genetically dependent on a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the ABCC11 gene. So far, it still remains to be clear how SNP in the ABCC11 gene is associated with human malodour. In a recent issue of Experimental Dermatology, Baumann et al. propose one of the underlying molecular pathways. Although one of the amino acid conjugated of the odorants, Cys-Gly-3-methyl-3-sulfanylhexanol (3M3SH), was not taken up by the transporter ABCC11, glutathione conjugate of 3MSH (SG-3MSH) was transported by ABCC11. Moreover, SG-3MSH was processed to 3M3SH by γ-glutamyl-transferase 1 (GGT1), which was abundantly expressed in apocrine sweat glands. These findings may pave a way for the pharmacogenetics of human body odour and the development of innovative deodorant products.

Keywords: 3-methyl-3-sulfanylhexanol; ABCC11; GGT1; odor.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • Biological Transport
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Hexanols / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Sweat Glands / chemistry
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / genetics


  • ABCC11 protein, human
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Hexanols
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • gamma-glutamyltransferase, human
  • Glutathione