The products of the human apocrine axillary glands contain volatile steroid
s which act as pheromones, The steroidal structure of these pheromones impl
ies that the axillary glands should be able to synthesize cholesterol which
is the essential precursor of these molecules. Since important steps in ch
olesterol synthesis are localized within peroxisomes, we investigated the o
ccurrence and the putative role of peroxisomes in the axillary glands at pr
otein and mRNA levels by immunocytochemistry, Western blotting, and RT-PCR.
Numerous peroxisomes were localized in the cells of the apocrine glands by
immunocytochemistry, and the presence of catalase was confirmed by Western
blotting and RT-PCR. Additionally, RT-PCR revealed the presence of mRNAs o
f two peroxisome-associated enzymes of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway
, mevalonate kinase and farnesyl diphosphate synthase, The results suggest
that the peroxisomes in the human apocrine axillary glands may play a pivot
al role in the biosynthesis of pheromones.