Scientists have succeeded in decoding a hormone involved in the mate selection process. Oxytocin, it is! Earlier, research revealed that the hormone oxytocin played a key role in stimulating social behavior in humans, but a study published Thursday in the journal ‘Cell’ suggests the hormone is likely to play an equally strong role in regulating female sexual behavior.
Oxytocin role in regulating Sexual Behavior Decoded
Oxytocin for long has been called the “love hormone” because it plays an important role in social behaviours such as maternal care and pair bonding.
In an experiment conducted, it was found after switching off the discovered neurons, the female mice were not showing any signs of sexual attraction to males. The oxytocin hormone was withheld and the cells were silenced with the help of TRAP (Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification) technique. Following this, the interest in mating was lost by females during estrus.
The same experiment was also conducted in male mice however, it did not have the same effect on male mice. The researchers believe that female cells were more responsive to the hormone than the equivalent cells in male mice.
Nathaniel Heintz, the co-author of the study said and professor of molecular biology at Rockefeller University in New York City, said,
“It doesn’t mean it’s uniquely responsible because the hormone acts in several important places in the brain but it does show that this particular cell type is required for this aspect of female social behaviour.”
In short, a small group of neurons, brain cells which responds to oxytocin hormone are key in controlling the sexual behavior.
While scientists cannot pinpoint exactly how oxytocin triggers mice in estrus (sexually reproductive phase) researchers assume safely the same mechanism is followed in humans for selecting mate.