Olfaction in humans with special reference to odorous 16-androstenes: their occurrence, perception and possible social, psychological and sexual impact

in Journal of Endocrinology
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While investigating the presence and function of androgens in pigs, Prelog & Ruzicka (1944) found an abundance of 16-androstenes in boar testes. The alcohols of this series of steroids, such as 5α-androst-16-en-3α-ol (3α-androstenol) (Fig. 1) were recorded as possessing musk-like odours (for review see Ohloff et al. 1983) while the corresponding ketones, such as 5α-androst-16-en-3-one (5α-androstenone), had a 'urine-like' smell (Prelog et al. 1945). Prior to this finding, investigators had reported an unpleasant odour originating from cooking the meat from a mature boar and the odour was thought to arise either from the parotid or submaxillary glands. Subsequent studies showed that this 'boar-taint', as it is called, comprises 5α-androstenone and 3α-androstenol (Patterson, 1968a,b; Claus, 1974; Bonneau, 1982; Booth, 1982) and, possibly, other 16-androstenes. As a result of numerous experiments, both in vitro and in vivo, the source of these 16-androstenes is known to be largely the testis in pigs,


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