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Some aspects of sexuality are as simple as the birds and bees.

But the complex dance between the brain and the rest of the flesh is only now being understood through the isolation of a new chemical in the brain, writes a team of predominantly European researchers in the latest Nature Communications.

They call the new peptide a fitting name: kisspeptin.

“The kisspeptin peptide is a well-established potent activator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis,” they write. “The present study provides the first evidence that kisspeptin neurons in the RP3V are an essential part of a motivational neural circuit that is triggered by male olfactory cues detected and processed predominantly through the vomeronasal pathway, ultimately leading to the female adapting the lordosis posture facilitating intromission and consequently fertilization. Our data establish these cells as a central hub in the neural network governing the orchestration of sexual behavior in female mice.”

In other words, the smell of males triggers this kisspeptin pathway, which urges the females to make themselves physically available to the males for mating.

The pheroemones exuded by the male rodents activate a one-two punch of neurons, resulting in the release of the hormone gonadotropin, which drives attraction, they explain.

At the same time, the signal is transmitted to the nitric oxide neurotransmitters, which also trigger sexual behavior.

Biological links between fertility and sexual timing had previously been identified in a litany of studies. However, this kisspeptin chemical trail is what links the factors, said Ulrich Boehm, of Saarland University, one of the lead scientists on the paper.

“Until now, little was known about how the brain ties together ovulation, attraction and sex,” said Boehm, in a school statement. “Now we know that a single molecule – kisspeptin – controls all of these aspects through different brain circuits running in parallel with one another.”

The researchers said the discovery of the pathway in mice may lead to further understanding of human sexuality. This could potentially be found to apply to low sexual desire in females, they add.

“Therapeutics targeting kisspeptin signaling in the brain may hold the potential to provide novel treatment options for low sexual desire,” they write.

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