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Science: PIEZO2 Protein Crucial for Sexual Function
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Science: PIEZO2 Protein Crucial for Sexual Function.
The PIEZO protein family, which includes PIEZO1 and PIEZO2, plays a pivotal role in facilitating mechanosensitive ion channels that mediate cation influx in mammals.
Serving as mechanoreceptors, PIEZO proteins can transform mechanical signals into electrical or chemical signals by sensing changes in the cell membrane’s mechanical force.
They play a significant role in the transmission of mechanical force perception signals, including tactile, pain, proprioceptive, and other mechanical sensory processes, in mammals, including humans.
This phenomenon was first discovered in 2010 by Professor Ardem Patapoutian at the Scripps Research Institute, earning him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2021.
Visual, auditory, and olfactory cues drive mating behavior in various mammals, and mating behavior itself can be seen as a distinct form of tactile sensation. The discovery of PIEZO2 has significantly advanced our understanding of tactile mechanisms, but we still know little about tactile perception in the genital organs, including how it triggers physiological responses and induces pleasure.
On August 24, 2023, Alexander Chesler and colleagues from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) in the United States published a research paper titled “PIEZO2 and Perineal Mechanosensation Are Essential for Sexual Function” in the journal Science.
This research demonstrates that PIEZO2 is essential for triggering tactile-induced erection reflexes and successful mating in both male and female mice. For humans, individuals with complete loss of PIEZO2 function have reduced sensitivity in their genitalia and cannot experience direct pleasure from gentle touch or vibration.
These findings help elucidate how perineal mechanoreceptors detect gentle stimuli and initiate crucial physiological responses, providing a platform for exploring the sensory basis of sexual pleasure and its relationship with emotional touch.
It is well-known that the genitalia are highly sensitive, and tactile sensation in the genital region is crucial for mating and related pleasure, but its underlying biological basis is not fully understood.
The research team hypothesized that sexual contact might exhibit specialized response adaptations to control mating and provide emotional and motivational feedback. They also anticipated gender differences in responses triggered by sensory and mechanically sensitive receptors in the genital region.
To test these hypotheses, the research team developed a series of behavioral and functional imaging tests to investigate the role of PIEZO2 in genital mechanosensation and sexual function. Additionally, by exploring the impact of PIEZO2 loss-of-function mutations in humans, they determined its relevance to human sexual experiences.
In this study, the researchers explored how mechanosensation provides precise perception of the genital organs and controls reproduction in mice and humans. Through genetic strategies and in vivo functional imaging, the research team demonstrated that the mechanosensitive ion channel PIEZO2 is necessary for perineal sensation. PIEZO2 is also essential for triggering touch-induced erection reflexes and successful mating in both male and female mice.
For humans, sexual experiences are not limited to reproduction but are integral to many aspects of social life and behavior. The study of five adult patients (3 males, 2 females) with clinical findings of biallelic PIEZO2 gene function loss revealed proprioceptive loss, diminished vibration sensation, significantly increased tactile thresholds, and spinal scoliosis, but no cognitive difficulties. All individuals reported sexual activity and could be aroused by physiological genital stimulation, erotic thoughts, or videos, but they exhibited delayed, reduced, or absent physiological responses to mild genital stimuli. These observations align with what was observed in mouse experiments.
In summary, this study contributes to understanding how mechanoreceptors in the perineal region detect gentle stimuli and trigger essential physiological responses, underscoring the importance of touch in driving the physiological responses required for sexual function. Additionally, this discovery holds therapeutic potential for humans: PIEZO2 inhibitors could target and alleviate genital hypersensitivity and pain, while PIEZO2 activators could alleviate genital hyposensitivity.
Science: PIEZO2 Protein Crucial for Sexual Function.
Link to the paper:
(source:internet, reference only)