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Open AccessArticle

Chemical Fingerprints of Emotional Body Odor

Unilever R&D Vlaardingen, Olivier van Noortlaan 120, 3133 AT Vlaardingen, The Netherlands
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands
William James Center for Research, ISPA-Instituto Universitário, 1149-041 Lisboa, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Metabolites 2020, 10(3), 84;
Received: 2 February 2020 / Revised: 22 February 2020 / Accepted: 24 February 2020 / Published: 28 February 2020
Chemical communication is common among animals. In humans, the chemical basis of social communication has remained a black box, despite psychological and neural research showing distinctive physiological, behavioral, and neural consequences of body odors emitted during emotional states like fear and happiness. We used a multidisciplinary approach to examine whether molecular cues could be associated with an emotional state in the emitter. Our research revealed that the volatile molecules transmitting different emotions to perceivers also have objectively different chemical properties. Chemical analysis of underarm sweat collected from the same donors in fearful, happy, and emotionally neutral states was conducted using untargeted two-dimensional (GC×GC) coupled with time of flight (ToF) MS-based profiling. Based on the multivariate statistical analyses, we find that the pattern of chemical volatiles (N = 1655 peaks) associated with fearful state is clearly different from that associated with (pleasant) neutral state. Happy sweat is also significantly different from the other states, chemically, but shows a bipolar pattern of overlap with fearful as well as neutral state. Candidate chemical classes associated with emotional and neutral sweat have been identified, specifically, linear aldehydes, ketones, esters, and cyclic molecules (5 rings). This research constitutes a first step toward identifying the chemical fingerprints of emotion. View Full-Text
Keywords: body odor; chemical fingerprint; chemosignaling; gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; odor perception; pheromones; volatile organic compounds (VOCs); volatilome body odor; chemical fingerprint; chemosignaling; gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; odor perception; pheromones; volatile organic compounds (VOCs); volatilome
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MDPI and ACS Style

Smeets, M.A.M.; Rosing, E.A.E.; Jacobs, D.M.; van Velzen, E.; Koek, J.H.; Blonk, C.; Gortemaker, I.; Eidhof, M.B.; Markovitch, B.; de Groot, J.; Semin, G.R. Chemical Fingerprints of Emotional Body Odor. Metabolites 2020, 10, 84.

AMA Style

Smeets MAM, Rosing EAE, Jacobs DM, van Velzen E, Koek JH, Blonk C, Gortemaker I, Eidhof MB, Markovitch B, de Groot J, Semin GR. Chemical Fingerprints of Emotional Body Odor. Metabolites. 2020; 10(3):84.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Smeets, Monique A.M.; Rosing, Egge A.E.; Jacobs, Doris M.; van Velzen, Ewoud; Koek, Jean H.; Blonk, Cor; Gortemaker, Ilse; Eidhof, Marloes B.; Markovitch, Benyamin; de Groot, Jasper; Semin, Gün R. 2020. "Chemical Fingerprints of Emotional Body Odor" Metabolites 10, no. 3: 84.

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