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Kisspeptin enhances brain responses to olfactory and visual cues of attraction in men

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Lisa Yang, Lysia Demetriou, Matthew B. Wall, Edouard G.A. Mills, David Zargaran, Mark Sykes, Julia K. Prague, Ali Abbara, Bryn M. Owen, Paul A. Bassett, Eugenii A. Rabiner, Alexander N. Comninos, Waljit S. Dhillo

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere133633
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2020

King's Authors


Successful reproduction is a fundamental physiological process that relies on the integration of sensory cues of attraction with appropriate emotions and behaviors and the reproductive axis. However, the factors responsible for this integration remain largely unexplored. Using functional neuroimaging, hormonal, and psychometric analyses, we demonstrate that the reproductive hormone kisspeptin enhances brain activity in response to olfactory and visual cues of attraction in men. Furthermore, the brain regions enhanced by kisspeptin correspond to areas within the olfactory and limbic systems that govern sexual behavior and perception of beauty as well as overlap with its endogenous expression pattern. Of key functional and behavioral significance, we observed that kisspeptin was most effective in men with lower sexual quality-of-life scores. As such, our results reveal a previously undescribed attraction pathway in humans activated by kisspeptin and identify kisspeptin signaling as a new therapeutic target for related reproductive and psychosexual disorders.

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