Health & Wellbeing

Kisspeptin, the attraction-triggering hormone akin to mental viagra

Kisspeptin, the attraction-tri...
An infusion of the hormone kisspeptin was found to enhance activity in brain areas related to arousal and attraction
An infusion of the hormone kisspeptin was found to enhance activity in brain areas related to arousal and attraction
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An infusion of the hormone kisspeptin was found to enhance activity in brain areas related to arousal and attraction
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An infusion of the hormone kisspeptin was found to enhance activity in brain areas related to arousal and attraction

A new brain imaging study from a team of UK researchers has found an infusion of the naturally occurring hormone called kisspeptin can enhance brain activity related to sexual attraction in response to visual and odor cues. This suggests the hormone may be an effective treatment for low libido and other psychosexual disorders.

Kisspeptin was first discovered in the mid-90s when scientists were screening human melanoma cell genes to better understand what triggers cancer metastasis. In 2003, a couple of landmark studies revealed kisspeptin, and its related brain receptors, play a major role in regulating human reproductive functions, particularly during puberty.

More recently, research led by scientists from Imperial College London has explored the role of kisspeptin in sexual and emotional brain processes. A 2017 study examined a number of men following an intravenous infusion of kisspeptin. That study used MRI scans to examine the effect of kisspeptin on brain activity when viewing sexual and non-sexual images of couples.

The study offered the first clues to kisspeptin’s potential role in activating neurological arousal mechanisms. The findings suggested kisspeptin enhanced activity in areas of the brain triggered by sexual arousal and romance.

The new research follows up on the 2017 study, using a similar experimental protocol. Thirty-three healthy young men were recruited and administered a 75-minute infusion of either kisspeptin or a placebo. While undergoing subsequent MRI scans, the subjects were exposed to an olfactory test, using a popular female perfume, and a facial attractiveness test.

“Our results show that kisspeptin administration enhances brain responses to a feminine scent in several key components of the limbic system that are involved in olfactory processing, hedonic valuation of olfactory stimuli, and sexual arousal networks,” the researchers write in the newly published study.

Interestingly, the kisspeptin administration resulted in a different neurological effect during the facial attractiveness task, Instead of activating the limbic systems, the researchers saw enhanced activity in certain prefrontal brain regions known to govern perceptions of facial beauty. This suggests kisspeptin’s effects at mediating brain attraction pathways are specific to different sensory modalities.

Also, the study found the strength of kisspeptin’s effect on these attraction pathways was related to the men’s individual evaluations of their sexual quality of life. So, the kisspeptin was most effective on men with pre-existing low-levels of sexual desire and arousal. This points to the therapeutic potential of kisspeptin as a treatment for men with low libido and other psychosexual disorders.

“Psychosexual disorders have a major detrimental impact on wellbeing and can be highly distressing not only to those affected but also their partners,” says Alexander Comninos, co-senior author on the new research. “Our study shows that kisspeptin can boost brain activity related to attraction and intriguingly this boosting effect is even greater in men with a low sexual quality of life.”

The study does clearly note that human sexual responses are incredibly complex, governed by a broad array of components from body language to other hormonal factors. So, kisspeptin is not the singular overarching influence controlling all sexual arousal in the brain, but the effects noted in these studies are significant. And for men suffering from low psychosexual function, the effect of additional kisspeptin is certainly akin to a kind of mental viagra, boosting activity in brain regions linked to arousal and attraction.

The research is still in its early stages and more work is needed to explore the effect of kisspeptin on men with low libido, as well as investigating its effects on arousal in women. It is also unclear how long the effects from a single infusion last, so transferring these results into clinical treatments may involve developing alternative methods for administering the hormone.

“We hope our growing understanding of how kisspeptin boosts parts of the brain involved in attraction and arousal can ultimately lead to new ways of treating people affected,” says Comninos. “However, we still have a long way to go.”

The new research was published in the journal JCI Insight.

Source: Imperial College London

5 comments
guzmanchinky
KISSpeptin, what a name!
Stein Skavik
This sounds to me like it would be of better use if the study were directed towards women as it seems to start where women’s desires start , but I may be wrong considering I have two divorces under my belt ?
LiamC
So it's potentially like Beer Goggles in a pill, haha
dls
A colleague that I worked with in aquaculture told me he did work on mice tumors and this was one of the proteins he worked with. It was first identified in a research lab in Hershey, Pennsylvania and named after the Hershey's Kiss.
RobertElliot
I would like two helpings please.