Washington, Feb. 16: By using analytical organic chemistry researchers, who have tried to identify the presence of odor-producing chemical compounds in human earwax, have found that the amounts of these compounds differ between individuals of East Asian origin and Caucasians.
The findings suggested that human earwax, an easily obtained bodily secretion, could be an overlooked source of personal information.
“Our previous research has shown that underarm odors can convey a great deal of information about an individual, including personal identity, gender, sexual orientation, and health status,” study senior author George Preti, PhD, an organic chemist at Monell, said. “We think it possible that earwax may contain similar information.”
Earwax, scientifically known as cerumen, is a mixture of secretions from specialized sweat glands with fatty materials secreted from sebaceous glands. It can have one of two physical types: a wet yellow-brown wax or a dry white wax.
Individuals of East Asian (e.g., Chinese, Korean and Japanese) and Native American descent have a form of the ABCC11 gene that codes both for dry-type earwax and also for reduced underarm body odor relative to individuals of other ethnicities, who typically produce a wet-type ear wax and greater body odor.
To explore whether earwax has a characteristic odor, the researchers collected earwax from 16 healthy men: eight Caucasian and eight of East Asian descent.
The analysis revealed 12 VOCs were consistently present in the earwax of all the men. However, the amount of VOCs varied as a function of the subject’s ethnic background, with Caucasians having greater amounts of 11 of the 12 VOCs than East Asians.
The study was published in the Journal of Chromatography B. (ANI)