Sweating the small stuff: glycoproteins in human sweat and their unexplored potential for microbial adhesion

Robyn A. Peterson, Audrey Gueniche, Ségolène Adam De Beaumais, Lionel Breton, Maria Dalko-Csiba, Nicolle H. Packer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    There is increasing evidence that secretory fluids such as tears, saliva and milk play an important role in protecting the human body from infection via a washing mechanism involving glycan-mediated adhesion of potential pathogens to secretory glycoproteins. Interaction of sweat with bacteria is well established as the cause of sweat-associated malodor. However, the role of sweat glycoproteins in microbial attachment has received little, if any, research interest in the past. In this review, we demonstrate how recent published studies involving high-throughput proteomic analysis have inadvertently, and fortuitously, exposed an abundance of glycoproteins in sweat, many of which have also been identified in other secretory fluids. We bring together research demonstrating microbial adhesion to these secretory glycoproteins in tears, saliva and milk and suggest a similar role of the sweat glycoproteins in mediating microbial attachment to sweat and/or skin. The contribution of glycan-mediated microbial adhesion to sweat glycoproteins, and the associated impact on sweat derived malodor and pathogenic skin infections are unchartered new research areas that we are beginning to explore.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)218-229
    Number of pages12
    Issue number3
    Early online date31 Aug 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • adhesion
    • bacteria
    • glycoprotein
    • secretion
    • sweat


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