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Dermatologica. 1991;182(1):32-4.

Do cutaneous coryneform bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids in vitro?

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Department of Dermatology, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, FRG.


According to an opinion shared by many, human axillary and inguinal odour is related to short-chain fatty acids produced by gram-positive bacteria. Especially coryneform bacteria are said to produce these odiferous substances. After sampling 22 different strains of coryneform bacteria we cultured them for 48 h in a rich medium. Short-chain fatty acids were extracted afterwards by shaking the liquid medium with ether. Gas chromatography was used for detection. Only one of the tested bacteria produced propionic acid. Acetic acid, (iso)butyric acid or (iso)valeric acid could never be detected. The production of substances of the short-chain fatty acid type might, however, be a consequence of the particular substrate found under physiologic conditions by these organisms in human apocrine sweat. The theory that the metabolism of these skin bacteria necessarily produces short-chain fatty acids could not be supported. Another explanation might be that unspecific secreted enzymes of the bacteria are responsible for the production of short-chain fatty acids by a cleavage of skin surface lipids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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