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Chem Senses. 2014 Oct;39(8):693-703. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bju041.

Responsiveness of human neonates to the odor of 5α-androst-16-en-3-one: a behavioral paradox?

Author information

1
Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS-Université de Bourgogne, 9E boulevard Jeanne d'Arc, 21000 Dijon, France, Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Emil Fischer Center, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Schuhstraße 9, 91052 Erlangen, Germany, Department of Sensory Analytics, Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, Giggenhauser Straße 35, 85354 Freising, Germany, benoist.schaal@u-bourgogne.fr.
2
Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS-Université de Bourgogne, 9E boulevard Jeanne d'Arc, 21000 Dijon, France, Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Emil Fischer Center, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Schuhstraße 9, 91052 Erlangen, Germany.
3
Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS-Université de Bourgogne, 9E boulevard Jeanne d'Arc, 21000 Dijon, France.
4
Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Emil Fischer Center, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Schuhstraße 9, 91052 Erlangen, Germany.
5
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Universitätsstraße 21-23, 91054 Erlangen, Germany and.
6
Department of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Reproductive Biology, University Hospital Dijon, 1 boulevard Jeanne d'Arc, 21079 Dijon, France.
7
Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Emil Fischer Center, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Schuhstraße 9, 91052 Erlangen, Germany, Department of Sensory Analytics, Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, Giggenhauser Straße 35, 85354 Freising, Germany.

Abstract

The odorous steroid 5α-androst-16-en-3-one (AND) occurs in numerous biological fluids in mammals, including man, where it is believed to play a chemocommunicative role. As AND was recently detected in milk and amniotic fluid, sensitivity and hedonic responses to this substance were assessed in human neonates. To this aim, respiration and facial expressions were recorded in 3-day-old newborns in response to aqueous solutions of AND, ranging from 500ng/mL to 0.5 fg/mL. Although analyses of respiratory rate did not lead to clear-cut results, the newborns changed their facial expressions at concentrations not detected by adults in a triangle test. Newborns displayed negative facial actions of longer duration to AND relative to an odorless control. Thus, AND may be considered to be offensive to newborns, which is a counterintuitive outcome as they are exposed to this compound in the womb (and it should therefore be familiar), in milk, and on the mother's skin surface (and it should therefore be conditioned as positive). Multiple reasons for this perceptual-behavioral paradox are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

amniotic fluid; androstenone; aversion; milk; olfaction

PMID:
25217699
DOI:
10.1093/chemse/bju041
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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