Hypersexual disorder may stem from a problem in the way individuals regulate the hormone oxytocin. The discovery could open the door to new treatments.
People with hypersexual disorder have behaviour associated with intense sexual fantasies to the extent that it can be distressing and disruptive to their life. However, it is contentious whether it should be considered a clinical condition.
Little is known about the biological underpinnings of hypersexual disorder. To find out more, Adrian Boström at Uppsala University in Sweden and his colleagues studied whether people with the condition have different gene expressions.
They compared blood samples from 60 people with hypersexual disorder and 33 people without the condition to see if they had different epigenetic markers – patterns in their DNA that affect which genes are switched on and off.
The results identified two regions of DNA that were different in people with the condition. These differences were associated with reduced levels of a molecule called MIR4456, which suppresses signalling of oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone” due its role in human bonding.
This was consistent with further work showing that people with hypersexual disorder had unusually high oxytocin levels, which dropped after they underwent cognitive behavioural therapy.
The findings suggest that using drugs to regulate the hormone could be a way to regulate the condition.
Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2217231-hypersexual-disorder-linked-to-genes-that-regulate-love-hormone/#ixzz6HaIslgdL