Scientists discover a gene in the brain that controls sexual desire in men


Scientists have discovered a gene in the brain that controls sexual desire in men.

The gene, called aromatase, regulates men’s sexual behaviour, and could be targeted by drugs to either increase or decrease sexual desire, according to researchers from Northwestern University.

Aromatase converts testosterone to oestrogen in the brain, which drives male sexual activity, according to the researchers.

Dr Serdar Bulun, senior author of the study, said: “This is the first key finding to explain how testosterone stimulates sexual desire.

“For the first time, we demonstrated conclusively that the conversion of testosterone to oestrogen in the brain is critical to maintain full sexual activity or desire in males. Aromatase drives that.”

In the study, the researchers knocked out aromatase in the brains of male mice.

They found that doing so decreased the mice’s sexual activity by 50%.

Dr Hong Zhao, corresponding study author, said: “Male mice partially lost interest in sex. Aromatase is the key enzyme for oestrogen production. Oestrogen has functions in males and females. Testosterone has to be converted to oestrogen to drive sexual desire in males.”

When the male mice with aromatase knocked out were put together with female mice, the males showed little interest.

Dr Balun explained: “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 researchers hope the findings could contribute to new treatments for disorders of sexual desire.

This includes men with low sexual desire, as well as men with sex addiction.


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