Gene: Monogamous?

Source: Gene treatment stops frisky voles being love rats, 17-06-2004

Not done on human yet.

When the brains of male meadow voles, usually the most promiscuous of lovers, are enhanced with a gene called the vasopressin receptor, they instantly reform their loose ways and form lasting pair bonds instead.

Because vasopressin is also active in the human brain, the remarkable experiment at Emory University in Atlanta, suggests that differing levels of the hormone could explain why some people find it harder to stay faithful than others.

“It is intriguing to consider that individual differences in vasopressin receptors in humans might play a role in how differently people form relationships,” Larry Young, who led the research, said.

Vasopressin and its receptors may also be implicated in drug addiction and social disorders such as autism, both of which affect the brain’s reward centre.

The Emory experiment, details of which are reported today in the journal Nature, has now proved this theory beyond reasonable doubt. In the study Dr Young’s team took the gene for the vasopressin receptor from the prairie vole and bound it to a harmless virus.

Dr Young said that while more than one gene and hormone is probably involved in regulating human monogamy and pair-bonding, the results have powerful implications for understanding the biological and chemical origins of relationships. “Our study provides evidence in a comparatively simple animal model that changes in the activity of a single gene can profoundly change the fundamental social behaviour of an entire species,” he said.


  1. A said,

    May 6, 2007 at 3:56 am

    I am surprised by this,,,and when on humans?

  2. mich said,

    May 6, 2007 at 6:26 am

    Well, I am interested to know about the further development too. Imagine that your spouse/partner drop THE pill into your drink and it will guarantee your monogamous commitment to the relationship…Could it happen? I wish I have the crystal ball… 😉

  3. A.T. said,

    February 22, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    It is actually scary thing, from biology pov… but nevermind.

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