Randiness 'is all in the genes'

Sunday, 28th May 2006

Sexy people have something unusual in their genes, scientists have found. For the first time, genetic variation has been directly linked to levels of sexual desire and arousal. About 30% of men and women have `randy' genetic mutations that cause heightened responses to sexual signals, the research shows.

Another 60% carry variants that tend to dampen them down, while 10% fall into neither category. Differences in human sexuality were historically assumed to be the result of learned behaviour or psychology. But new research into human behaviour and personality has suggested that many aspects of sexuality depend on genetics.

In the latest study, Israeli researchers looked at the DNA of 148 healthy male and female university students. The students were also given questionnaires asking them to rate their own levels of sexual desire, arousal and function. When the results were compared, scientists found sexual responses correlated with variants of the D4 receptor gene.


D4 triggers a reaction to dopamine, a "neurotransmitter" that enables messages to pass from one neuron to another. It is associated with the brain's "reward" system - circuits that kick in when a pleasurable feeling is experienced. Some forms of the D4 gene depressed sexual desire, arousal and function, while others had the opposite effect.

Professor Richard Ebstein, from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said: "For the first time a specific gene variant has been linked to human sexual desire, arousal and function. "These findings suggest that some aspects of human sexual behaviour are hard-wired and that individual differences in sexuality are partially due to specific genes. Such genes may in the future become the targets of specific drug treatments for specific problems."

The "randy" mutation is thought to be relatively new, dating back 50,000 years to the time when the ancestors of modern humans left Africa. Writing in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the scientists said new discoveries in genetics could lead to a change of thinking about the treatment of sexual problems.

"Psychotherapeutic approaches to sexual disorders such as hypoactive (unusually low) sexual desire disorder in females (HSDD) might... benefit from the concept that individual differences have a genetic component and that both high and low levels of sexual desire may be adaptational and not in themselves a cause for guilt or treatment," they wrote.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/health/s/214/214328_randiness_is_all_in_the_genes.htm l