When mice received a supplement of ghrelin, an appetite hormone released from the stomach, they showed increased sexual activity and increase in efforts to find a partner, in a new Swedish study.
Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy conducted the study and also confirmed the effect in a follow-up experiment, where mice that received a ghrelin inhibitor instead decreased their sexual activity.
Researcher Elisabet Jerlhag said that it is already known that ghrelin affects the reward mechanisms that are triggered by food, alcohol and other addictive drugs and their study now shows for the first time that ghrelin also plays a role in natural reward mechanisms like sex.
Jerlhag added that this does not mean that ghrelin fills the same function in humans and finding out requires significantly more research in the area, but ghrelin inhibitors may potentially be a key to future treatments for sex addiction and sex abuse.
Jerlhag noted that addictive behaviours, including sex abuse, are one of our major social problems, and there is a great need for new treatment strategies. Hopefully, their results can add another piece of the puzzle to this work.
The article is published online in the journal Addiction Biology.