Comparison of human axillary odour profiles obtained by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and skin microbial profiles obtained by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis using multivariate pattern recognition

Metabolomics (Impact Factor: 3.86). 12/2007; 3(4):427-437. DOI: 10.1007/s11306-007-0054-6


Several studies have shown that microbial action is responsible for many compounds responsible for human odour. In this paper, we compare the pattern of microbial profiles and that of chemical profiles of human axillary odour by using multivariate pattern matching techniques. Approximately 200 subjects from Carinthia, Austria, participated in the study. The microbial profiles were represented by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis and the axillary odour profiles were determined in the sweat samples collected by a stir-bar sampling device and analysed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Both qualitative and quantitative distance metrics were used to construct dissimilarity matrices between samples which were then used to represent the patterns of these two types of profiles. The distance matrices were then compared by using the Mantel test and the Procrustean test. The results show that on the overall dataset there is no strong correlation between microbial and chemical profiles. When the data are split into family groups, correlations vary according to family with a range of estimated p values from 0.00 to 0.90 that the null hypothesis (no correlation) holds. When 32 subjects who followed four basic rules of behaviour were selected, the estimated p -values are 0.00 using qualitative and <0.01 using quantitative distance metrics, suggesting excellent evidence that there is a connection between the microbial and chemical signature.

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    • "Skin bacteria convert non-volatile compounds into volatile compounds having characteristic smells. The body odour of individual human beings correlates with the presence of specific microorganisms [11], [12], [13] and with detailed skin microbial profiles, as assessed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis [14]. The interactions between skin microbes and the human host, however, are still poorly understood [15] and the effect of the skin microbial composition on disease vectors remains largely unknown [16]. "
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    • "Comparison of this microbial profile of the skin with its chemical profile shows a correlation, but only when the subjects strictly followed some basic rules of behaviour, such as no deodorant use for 48 h and wearing a t-shirt provided by the researchers (Xu et al., 2007). The importance of behavioural rules for the volunteers indicates that, in addition to the microbial composition, environmental factors such as grooming habits and diet also influence the formation of human body odour (Xu et al., 2007; Havlicek & Lenochova, 2008). "
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