That bad smell in the armpits? All the fault of the Bo enzyme

In this hot summer we go to great lengths to fight the sweat and eliminate that nasty, smelly halo in the armpits. At one time perhaps these smells were used to communicate with their fellowmen but today we would like to always be fresh and fragrant. But where does this stink come from? Researchers at the University of York have discovered who is really responsible for body odor: it is an enzyme called Bo (Bo, an acronym for body odor), a particular bacterium that lives under our armpits capable of transforming an indore molecule into a compound with an unpleasant smell. The research has just been published on Scientific Report.

This is why sweat gives off a bad smell (and some tips to combat it)
The composition of our sweat
Bacteria in the armpits

In the past, the same researchers had already identified in the microbiome of the armpits a group of bacteria involved in the production of thioalcohols – organic compounds containing sulfur that give that intense unpleasant odor to underarm sweat by hosting a diverse community of bacteria that is part of the natural microbiome of the skin. . But the new study has taken a further step forward: analysis showed that it is man staphylococcus one of the main microbes responsible for body odor. It is able to survive in the armpit environment where, the researchers have now discovered, thanks to the Bo enzyme it consumes an odorless compound (Cys-Gly-3M3SH) released by the sweat glands, transforming it into a thioacolic by-product, the real responsible for the pungent smell of sweat.

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Future research

Finding this Bo enzyme allowed us to rebuild the mechanism within some bacteria that produces the odor molecules, he explains Michelle Rudden, first author of the study. This is a key advance in understanding how body odor works and will enable the development of targeted inhibitors that originally block the production of the Bo enzyme, leaving the underarm microbiome intact.

August 31, 2020 (change September 1, 2020 | 09:16)



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