Fish Odor Syndrome

December 18, 2012 | James Kohl

Gene Test Offers Whiff of Hope By Ari Daniel Shapiro ⋅ March 28, 2012

Excerpt: “TMAU is a disorder in which people are unable to complete the metabolism of a small molecule called trimethylamine,” says one of the scientists, Elizabeth Shephard of University College London. “That small molecule is derived from the ordinary foodstuffs that we eat such as eggs, soya, meat.”

In most people, an enzyme breaks down trimethylamine in the liver, but people with TMAU excrete the molecule in their urine, breath, and sweat.

And that molecule – trimethylamine – is what gives rotting fish its distinctive odor. In fact, TMAU is sometimes called fish odor syndrome.

TMAU can be triggered by liver or kidney disease, but it can also be hereditary – caused by the gene Shephard co-discovered – although the symptoms may not appear until adulthood. The genetic form of the condition is rare, affecting perhaps one in 40,000 people.


Genetically predisposed production of body odor that is epigenetically effected by nutrient chemicals that enable pheromone-controlled nutrient-dependent reproduction is the central feature of my model for non-random adaptive evolution via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction. Although the honeybee model organism is also central to this model, there is a recently released report that also helps extend the model, by way of the honeybee, to mammals. I will elaborate on the latest report to incorporate a mammalian model in my next publication.



James Vaughn Kohl

James Vaughn Kohl

James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones.