New York: A team of researchers has discovered the locus of male sexual desire in specific regions of the brain tissue where a key gene named aromatase is present. The gene regulates sexual behaviour in men, and thus can be targeted by drugs to either increase its function for low sexual desire or decrease its function for compulsive sexual desire, scientists said. The study on mice published in the journal Endocrinology, revealed that aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen in the brain, which drives male sexual activity. Aromatase -- and enzyme -- is located in estrogen-producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose (fat) tissue and brain.
"This is the first key finding to explain how testosterone stimulates sexual desire," said senior author Serdar Bulun from Northwestern University, US. "For the first time, we demonstrated conclusively that the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the brain is critical to maintaining full sexual activity or desire in males. Aromatase drives that," Bulun added. When scientists knocked out aromatase selectively in the brain, sexual activity in male mice decreased by 50 per cent, despite having higher levels of blood testosterone levels. “Aromatase is the key enzyme for estrogen production,” said study author Hong Zhao.