Can serotonin cure gay mice? Do we care?

Posted on 04 Apr 2011 at 11:58am

Researchers in China have reported a series of experiments indicating that sexual orientation — or at least sexual preference — in male mice is determined by the levels of serotonin in the rodents’ brain.

Mice first bred a little of boy rats whose brains were not receptive to serotonin then put them in a cage with females and other males. The male mice with brains not receptive to serotonin ignored all the other mice, male and female, at least in a sexual way. But when they put the not-receptive-to-serotonin boy rats in a cage with only other boy rats, “the modified males were far more likely to mount the male and emit a “mating call” normally given off when encountering females than unmodified males were,” according to reports on BBC News.

The researchers then bred a male mice that lacked the tryptonphan hydroxylase 2 gene, necessary for the production of serontonin and conducted the experiments again, getting similar results.

Then the discovered they could “cure” the mice of their homosexuality even without the help of ex-gay therapy. All they had to do was inject some serotonin directly into the brains of the modified male mice and, Ta-Da! They liked girl mice again!

Let’s all hope this research does not fall into the hands of the wingnuts over at Exodus International or any of those other ex-gay groups, or they will be sticking needles in gay brains right and left.

Of course, the scientists were quick to warn that people shouldn’t try to jump to any conclusions about human sexuality based on these experiments with mice. Professor Keith Kendrick, a neuroscientist at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, noted that sexuality in mice is directly related to their sense of smell, adding, “In terms of having potential relevance to understanding human sexual preference/orientation, we are of course far less influenced by odour cues in this context than mice are.”

Professor Kendrick also said: “There is some very limited evidence for altered responses to selective serotonin uptake inhibitors in the brains of homosexuals, but we have been using psychoactive drugs which either increase or decrease serotonin function for quite some time now, and while effects on sexual arousal, impulsivity and aggression have often been reported, no effects on sexual preference/orientation have. At this time therefore any potential links between serotonin and human sexual preferences must be considered somewhat tenuous.”

But I don’t think that would stop the folks who want to cure the gays. I mean, when have they ever listened to reason anyway?

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