What’s the True Cause of Armpit Body Odor?

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020

British scientists have discovered what makes people stink.

Blame an enzyme that hides in specific bacteria that colonize the human armpit.

“Solving the structure of this ‘BO enzyme’ has allowed us to pinpoint the molecular step inside certain bacteria that makes the odor molecules,” said co-author Michelle Rudden. She’s a postdoctoral research associate in biology at the University of York in the United Kingdom.

“This is a key advancement in understanding how body odor works, and will enable the development of targeted inhibitors that stop BO production at the source without disrupting the armpit microbiome,” Rudden added in a university news release.

Your armpit hosts a community of bacteria that’s part of your natural skin microbiome. This study highlights Staphylococcus hominis as one of the main microbes causing body odor.

Rudden’s team said the BO enzyme was present in S. hominis even before the evolution of modern humans. That suggests body odor may have had an important role in societal communications among humans’ ancestral primates, the researchers said.

The report was published recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

— Steven Reinberg

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SOURCE: University of York, news release.

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