Gonadal suppression alters axillary steroid secretions in men, but does that affect olfactory social signaling?
1Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College London, SW7 1 London, UK
2Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T, Canada
3National Institute of Mental Health, 250 67 Klecany, Czech Republic
4Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, 120 00 Prague, Czech Republic
5Faculty of Science, Charles University, 120 00 Prague, Czech Republic
6School of Psychology, Newcastle University, NE2 4 England, UK
7Vancouver Prostate Centre, Vancouver, BC V4C, Canada
8Division of Psychology, University of Stirling, FK9 4 Scotland, UK
Submitted: 25 February 2021 Accepted: 22 March 2021
Online publish date: 02 June 2021
Background and objective: Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists (LHRHa) suppress gonadal hormone production and are commonly used to treat prostate cancer (PC) in men and conditions ranging from uterine ﬁbroids to estrogen-sensitive cancers in women. They are also used to delay sexual development in children considering gender reassignment or experiencing premature puberty. As chemically castrating agents, LHRHa may affect cutaneous steroid secretions, which, in turn, could alter body odor and inﬂuence the psycho-sexual dynamics between individuals. The objectives of the present study were to determine (1) if LHRHa indeed alter cutaneous skin secretions, and (2) whether this leads to perceivable changes in body odor.
Material and methods: Axillary skin secretions were collected on new cotton T-shirts worn by men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy with an LHRHa to treat PC (n = 10), both before starting the LHRHa and 3 months later. Healthy heterosexual university students (50 males, 50 females) were recruited to smell and rate the shirts for their masculinity, attractiveness, and intensity of odor. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) was also used to analyze steroids extracted from the shirt samples.
Results: LC-MS showed a statistically signiﬁcant decline in the concentration of the androgenic metabolites, androsterone and 5α-androstane-3,17-dione. This conﬁrms that LHRHa drugs that suppress gonadal hormone production markedly reduce cutaneous secretion of androgenic metabolic intermediates in adult males. However, no differences in odor were detected in the ratings of the shirts by male, female, nor male and female raters combined for any of the three variables assessed. Possible reasons why the human sniffers failed to perceive a change in odor are explored.
Conclusion: Our data document that LHRHa alter steroid skin secretions in older men, but whether such changes alter the olfactory signals that might inﬂuence psychosocial interactions remains unresolved.
Prostate cancer; Androgen deprivation therapy; Scent; Olfaction; Social implications
Syed Imran Ali Shah,Hannah C. P. Wilson,Paul D. Abel,Richard J. Wassersug,Vít Třebický,Jitka Třebická Fialová,Caroline Allen,Hans H. Adomat,Robert H. Bell,Emma S. Tomlinson Guns,S. Craig Roberts. Gonadal suppression alters axillary steroid secretions in men, but does that affect olfactory social signaling?. Journal of Men's Health. 2021.doi:10.31083/jomh.2021.042.
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