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Experientia. 1985 Sep 15;41(9):1134-6.

Axillary 5 alpha-androst-16-en-3-one in men and women: relationships with olfactory acuity to odorous 16-androstenes.


Axillary 5 alpha-androst-16-en-3-one (5 alpha-androstenone) levels were found to be significantly higher in men than in women but do not vary between left and right axillae, are not related to age, handedness or degree of hirsutism (in women) nor to anosmia to this steroid. In men (but not in women), levels are related linearly to axillary cholesterol concentrations but not to squalene. Olfactory thresholds for 5 alpha-androstenone varied widely, the lowest recorded being 0.2 ppb, but there was no difference in thresholds between men and women. Women (70%) found the smell 'repellant' but anosmia did not differ greatly between men and women (9-20%). Anosmia to the smell of 5 alpha-androst-16-en-3 alpha-ol was most marked in women (90%) rather than in men (45%). Axillary 5 alpha-androstenone values were generally consistent with the 'musky' or 'strong' smells of male axillary extracts, compared with the 'sweet' smell of those from female subjects.

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