Kisspeptin infusion shows promise in treating hypoactive sexual desire disorders

New research shows that Kisspeptin may help increase sexual desire in men and women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a condition characterized by a persistent or recurrent lack of sexual fantasies, desires, and thoughts that lead to problems in intimate relationships to lead. The new findings appear in JAMA network open.

Kisspeptin is a naturally occurring hormone that plays a crucial role in regulating the reproductive system. It is produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and acts on the pituitary gland to stimulate the release of other hormones involved in fertility. The new research suggests that kisspeptin may also play an important role in the psychology of sexual arousal.

“I started researching kisspeptin for its effects on reproduction many years ago,” said study author Alexander Comninos, consultant and honorary lecturer in endocrinology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “When I realized that kisspeptin is also present in many areas of the brain, I wanted to investigate this further. After finding that Kisspeptin can affect behavior, the next natural step was to see if it could help people with related issues.”

Comninos and his colleagues conducted two randomized clinical trials at an academic research center in the UK using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, two-way crossover protocol. Researchers recruited heterosexual men and women who were concerned and/or troubled by low sexual desire. Those who met the criteria for hypoactive sexual desire disorder were included in the studies, resulting in a sample of 32 male participants with a mean age of 37.9 years and a sample of 32 female participants with a mean age of 29.2 years.

Male participants visited the research center twice and received either a Kisspeptin infusion or a placebo at each visit. They then completed two video-based tasks while undergoing brain scans. In one task, they watched short videos that alternated between sexual and non-sexual content for 12 minutes. In the other task, they watched a longer 8-minute video of a heterosexual couple engaging in sexual activity while continuously recording their physical and subjective arousal.

Female participants, on the other hand, alternated between watching 20-second videos with sexual content and non-sexual control videos while undergoing brain scans. They also looked at 60 pictures of faces and were asked to rate their attractiveness on a 5-point Likert scale. Among the faces were highly attractive and moderately attractive males.

In men, Kisspeptin had a significant effect on brain activity in response to sexual visual stimuli compared to placebo. Specifically, the hormone increased activation in key areas of the brain related to sexual processing, including the left median frontal gyrus and left anterior cingulate cortex. Kisspeptin also increased activity in two key visual brain regions, the right fusiform gyrus and the bilateral visual cortex.

In addition, Kisspeptin significantly increased penile engorgement, resulting in greater physical arousal compared to placebo. Kisspeptin also improved men’s reported “happiness over sex.”

In women, the researchers found evidence that kisspeptin increased brain activity in areas related to processing sexuality and attraction. Women who were more stressed about their sexual function showed kisspeptin-enhanced brain activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that has been linked to female sexual desire.

The more kisspeptin activated the posterior cingulate cortex in response to attractive male faces, the less sexual aversion was reported by the participants. Women also reported feeling “sexy” after taking Kisspeptin compared to placebo.

“Kisspeptin is a potentially safe and effective treatment for people seeking help for their low sexual desire and has pro-erectile effects in men,” Comninos told PsyPost. “It’s still early days, but results so far are promising, especially considering that currently available treatments in the United States have limited efficacy and unpleasant side effects (such as nausea and drowsiness) for women, and none are currently approved for men.” treatments. Viagra is sometimes used, but it is primarily a mechanical agent that affects blood flow to the genitals. In contrast, our data suggest that Kisspeptin not only has an erection-promoting effect, but can also significantly improve underlying sexual desire and arousal.”

“Study participants underwent MRI during this study,” Comninos said. “This is clearly not the most comfortable environment, and so we were surprised that Kisspeptin administration had such a strong enhancing effect on sexual pathways, behavior and the penis in this clinical setting. Hopefully, Kisspeptin can do even better in that regard in a more comfortable setting, like a person’s home environment.”

Kisspeptin was well tolerated with no side effects or adverse events reported. However, researchers are interested in exploring alternative routes of administration.

“In this study we administered Kisspeptin by IV drip, which of course is not ideal during a sexual encounter! We are now looking at ways to make Kisspeptin easier to administer, such as by injection or nasal spray,” Comninos explained.

“It is important to emphasize that this is early work. There is much to do. We want to conduct larger studies examining effects in people with different identities and sexualities and deliver kisspeptin-based treatments in a simpler way.”

The Effects of Kisspeptin on Sexual Brain Processing and Penile Tumescence in Men With Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial study was authored by Edouard G Mills, Natalie Ertl, Matthew B Wall, Layla Thurston, Lisa Yang, Sofiya Suladze, Tia Hunjan, Maria Phylactou, Bijal Patel, Beatrice Muzi, Dena Ettehad, Paul A Bassett, Jonathan Howard, Eugenii A Rabiner, Paul Bech, Ali Abbara, David Goldmeier, Alexander N Comninos, and Waljit S Dhillo.

Effects of Kisspeptin Administration in Women With Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial study was conducted by Layla Thurston, Tia Hunjan, Natalie Ertl, Matthew B. Wall, Edouard G. Mills, Sofiya Suladze, Bjial Patel, Emma C. Alexander, Beatrice Muzi, Paul A Bassett, Eugenii A Rabiner, Paul Bech, David Goldmeier, Ali Abbara, Alexander N Comninos, and Waljit S Dhillo.

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