Could erectile dysfunction be in your genes?

  • Could erectile dysfunction be in your genes?

Could erectile dysfunction be in your genes?

A box of Viagra, typically used to treat erectile dysfunction, is seen in a pharmacy in Toronto January 31, 2008.

"Identifying this SIM1 locus as a risk factor for erectile dysfunction is a big deal because it provides the long sought-after proof that there is a genetic component to the disease", lead author Eric Jorgenson, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, says in a press release.

"Hopefully, this will translate into better treatments and, importantly, prevention approaches for the men and their partners who often suffer silently with this condition", he added.

Lead researcher Dr Eric Jorgenson, from USA health service providers Kaiser Permanente, said: "Identifying this SIM1 locus as a risk factor for erectile dysfunction is a big deal because it provides the long sought-after proof that there is a genetic component to the disease".

He noted that about 50 per cent of men do not respond to erectile dysfunction treatments now available.

"We know that there are other risk factors for erectile dysfunction, including smoking, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease", Jorgenson tells Newsweek.

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition among older men and is linked to many causes, such as neurological, hormonal and vascular factors. Because the erectile dysfunction risk locus showed enhancer activity and interacted with the SIM1 promoter, the erectile dysfunction risk locus likely influences the expression of the SIM1 gene, turning it on and off when needed, the study suggests.

Genetics are also suspected in about one-third of impotence cases, according to managed care consortium Kaiser Permanente, which pointed out that there is no known association with any specific genome locations. The first included 36,648 men from the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging cohort, or GERA. There are treatments that target these factors, but many men don't respond to them. Once they identified the spot on chromosome 6 that seemed to be linked with erectile dysfunction, they then confirmed the association in data from 222,358 men from the UK Biobank.

Researchers from health insurance and medical care company Kaiser Permanente studied the genes of almost 37,000 Americans who volunteered their medical records for the study. Guys completed sexual health surveys, and the team looked at whether participants were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction or received treatment for the condition. The next step, Wessells said, it to take these results, and test them against an even larger database, and against laboratory computer models.

If you've ever experienced erectile dysfunction, you're not alone. The erectile dysfunction locus is located near, but not in, the SIM1 gene. Co-author James M. Hotaling is from the University of Utah School of Medicine. The study also was funded by the National Institutes of Health (RC2 AG036607), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, The Ellison Medical Foundation, and the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefits Program.