Site of Male Sexual Desire Uncovered in Brain – Where a Key Gene Named Aromatase Is Present

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Brain Color MRI Scan

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Gene in brain tissue manages sexual habits in males in mouse research study.

The locus of male libido has actually been discovered in particular areas of brain tissue where a crucial gene called aromatase exists, reports a brand-new Northwestern Medicine research study in mice.

The gene manages sexual habits in guys, and therefore can be targeted by drugs to either increase its function for low libido or reduce its function for compulsive libido, researchers stated. Aromatase transforms testosterone to estrogen in the brain, which drives male sex.

The research study was released on September 10, 2020, in the journal Endocrinology.

Aromatase’s complete function in the adult brain had actually not formerly been understood.

“This is the first key finding to explain how testosterone stimulates sexual desire,” stated senior author Dr. Serdar Bulun, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine. “For the first time, we demonstrated conclusively that the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the brain is critical to maintain full sexual activity or desire in males. Aromatase drives that.”

When Northwestern researchers knocked out aromatase selectively in the brain, sex in male mice reduced by 50%, regardless of their having greater levels of blood testosterone levels (compared to control male mice).

“Male mice partially lost interest in sex,” stated matching research study author Dr. Hong Zhao, research study associate teacher in obstetrics and gynecology at Feinberg. “Aromatase is the key enzyme for estrogen production. Estrogen has functions in males and females. Testosterone has to be converted to estrogen to drive sexual desire in males.”

If a typical male mouse is put with a female one, Bulun stated, “it would chase after her and try to have sex with her. If you knock out the aromatase gene in the brain, their sexual activity is significantly reduced. There is less frequency of mating. The male mice are not that interested.”

The finding can add to brand-new treatments for conditions of libido, the researchers stated.

Low libido, medically called hypoactive libido condition, is a typical condition and can be an adverse effects of extensively utilized medications such as a classification of antidepressants called SSRIs. A treatment to improve aromatase in this condition might increase libido, Bulun stated.

On the other side, compulsive libido is another condition that can be dealt with by an existing systemic aromatase inhibitor, however that treatment has negative effects such as osteoporosis. Now, brand-new selective drugs that reduce just the brain promoter area of the aromatase gene can be established, Bulun stated. These brand-new selective medications would not trigger the negative effects of the presently existing aromatase inhibitors.

Reference: “Brain Aromatase and the Regulation of Sexual Activity in Male Mice” by David C Brooks, John S Coon V, Cihangir M Ercan, Xia Xu, Hongxin Dong, Jon E Levine, Serdar E Bulun and Hong Zhao, 10 September 2020, Endocrinology.
DOI: 10.1210/endocr/bqaa137

Other Northwestern authors consist of David Brooks, John Coon, Cihangir Ercan and Hongxin Dong.

The research study was supported by the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Feinberg School of Medicine.



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