MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Resistance/allergy to a partner's pheremones?

Date: Mon Sep 28 20:25:09 1998
Posted By: Wendy Ingman, Grad student, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, University of Adelaide
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 907082568.Gb.

Dear Colin, Having searched through the usual medical databases and on 
science databases on the internet, I can't find any reports on a partner's 
pheromones causing allergy. That's not to say that there isn't such a 
theory, and it could be possible, but there doesn't seem to be any 
scientific evidence for it.
There is however an interesting theory on the role of pheromones in mate 
selection and genetic diversity. In 1995, a Swiss group of scientists 
reported one particular group of genes called MHC (this stands for Major 
Histocompatibility Complex) appear to be involved in the attractiveness of 
men to particular women. Women found that the smell of t-shirts worn by men 
whose MHC genes were highly dissimilar to their own was more attractive 
than the t-shirts worn by men with similar MHC genes. As genetic diversity 
and in particular MHC gene differences between couples produces healthier 
offspring, this suggests that we are innately attracted to people with 
whom we would produce the most viable offspring. Interestingly, women on 
the pill were more attracted to the smell of t-shirts worn by men who were 
more genetically similar to their own MHC genes.

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