Drugs that bind to specific serotonin receptors can improve and impair female sexual function

Published on December 12, 2012 at 12:07 PM · No Comments

'It's all about the relationship'

Drugs that bind to specific serotonin receptors in the brain can both improve and impair female sexual function in non-human primates. These are the findings of a study conducted by Leiden PhD candidate Yves Aubert and colleagues at the division of Medical Pharmacology of the Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research (LACDR & LUMC). 

The common marmoset

Aubert carried out his research in co-operation with the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 'Relationship dynamics between partners are a key factor in determining female sexual behaviour,' Aubert concludes from experiments conducted in common marmosets, a species of New World monkeys that form long-term pair-bonds similar to those of humans. After treating female marmosets for several weeks with drugs that have specific serotonin receptor binding properties, Aubert was surprised to find not only changes in the females' sexual and social behaviour directed at their male pairmates, but also changes in the males' behaviour towards the females. In an innovative approach, he used two experimental drugs in his experiments that resulted in opposite behavioural effects. One drug (8-OH-DPAT) had a negative impact on female sexual and social behaviour, while the other had a positive impact, as Aubert demonstrated for the first time in a non-human primate. 'Clearly, pair-bond quality between partners and sexual behaviour are closely linked. While one drug increases aggression between male and female and sexual rejection of the male by the female partner, the other drug increases social grooming between pairmates and enhances the female's sexual attractiveness to her male partner.'

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