March 24, 2014
Image of (±)-1-Octen-3-ol 3D Image of (±)-1-Octen-3-ol

(±)-1-Octen-3-ol is an unsaturated alcohol that exists as two enantiomers, the (R)-(–)-form and the (S)-(+)-form. It is found most often as the racemic mixture.

1-Octen-3-ol occurs naturally in some plants, fungi, and molds; and it is a metabolite of linoleic acid. It is also found in human breath and sweat, which is unfortunate because it attracts mosquitoes and other biting insects.

Like the previous two Molecules of the Week, rotenone and paraquat, it’s possible that 1-octen-3-ol plays a role in Parkinson’s disease. In 2013, J. W. Bennett and J. R. Richardson at Rutgers University and J. W. Miller at Emory University exposed fruit flies to low doses of the compound and observed that the insects exhibited Parkinson’s-like symptoms such as slow movement. Exposure also damaged dopamine-producing nerve cells in the flies’ brains, another Parkinson’s indication.

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