Men's preferences for women's body odours are not associated with human leucocyte antigen

Probst, Fabian; Fischbacher, Urs; Lobmaier, Janek S.; Wirthmüller, Urs; Knoch, Daria (2017). Men's preferences for women's body odours are not associated with human leucocyte antigen. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, 284(1864), pp. 1-6. The Royal Society 10.1098/rspb.2017.1830

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Body odours reportedly porhay information about an individual's genotype
at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC, called human leucoryte antigen,
HLA, in humans). While there is strong experimental support for MHCassociated
mating behaviour in animals, the sifuation in humans is more
comple><. A lot of effort has been spent on testing HlA-associated odour
preferences of women. To date, only very few sfudies have looked at
HlA-linked olfactory preferences in men and these studies have revealed
inconsistent results. Here, we investigate men's HlA-associated preferences
for women's body odours. Importantly, and in contrast to previous studies,
these odours were gathered at peak fertility (i.e. jusf before ovulation) when
any HlA-associated odour prcferences should be strongest. We scrutinized
whether menls preference for women's body odours is influenced by (i) the
number of shared HLA alleles between men and women, (ii) HLA heterozygosity,
and (iii) the frequenry of rare HLA alleles. We found that men
could readily differentiate between odours they found attractive and
odours they found less attractive, but that these preferences wer€ not associated
with HLA. Specifically, men did not prefer odours ftom women
who are HLA dissirnilar, HLA heterozygous, or who have rare HLA alleles.
Together, these findings suggest that HLA has no effect on men's odour

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Institute of Clinical Chemistry
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Probst, Fabian, Lobmaier, Janek Simon, Wirthmüller, Urs, Knoch, Daria


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




The Royal Society




Irène Gonce-Gyr

Date Deposited:

29 Mar 2018 14:13

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:30

Publisher DOI:





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