The rules of attraction, written by a hormone

It is a pink exclamation mark that comes after "you attract me!" A team of scientists from Liège University, Belgium, and Saarland University, Germany, discovered the function that give the so-called "kiss hormone" kisspeptin. After studying the behaviour of female mice in the laboratory, the team has discovered this substance could be responsible for attracting the opposite sex and regulating different sexual dynamics in the studied animals.

Our work help understanding how the brain decodes signals from outside world and translates these environment tips into behaviour. Their research has been published in the Nature Communications magazine. Scientists have discovered that pheromones (a type of substance emitted by individuals of a species to send social signals to individuals of the same species) secreted by male mice activate in females a specific bundle of neurons called "kisspeptin neurons."

The substance, produced by the Kiss-1 gene, transmits a signal to other neurons that release gonadotropins (the hormones that stimulate the gonads) and cells that stimulates the copula. Ulrich Boehm, professor of clinical and experimental pharmacology and toxicology at Saarland University and co-author of the research explained: "Our work helps understanding how the brain decodes signals from the outside world and translates these 'environmental tips' into behaviour. In several animals, sexual behaviour is synchronised with ovulation, to maximise the likelihood of conception. Until now, we didn't know how the brain linked ovulation, attraction and sex together.

Now we understand that in the mice a single molecule, kisspeptin, controls all these aspects through different brain circuits to work in parallel."