Scientists have found, for the first time, a specific genetic location related to erectile dysfunction (ED) risk, according to a report published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
About a third of ED cases are thought to be genetic, and previous twin studies have supported this idea. But until the present study, researchers weren’t sure about such a gene’s location in a man’s DNA.
This location – the genetic locus – was found near the SIM1 gene.
To make this determination, researchers conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) with two cohorts. The first cohort came from the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging cohort, part of the Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health. The cohort included 36,648 men who had been diagnosed with ED. The men had filled out a survey about ED or had used ED drugs or other treatments.
Based on variation in the SIM1 region, 26% of the men were deemed to be at higher risk for ED.
A subsequent investigation involving 222,358 men from the UK Biobank program and had similar results.
For men with this genetic variation, ED risk is independent of known risk factors like body mass index, the authors noted.
They explained that the variations may influence the activity of the SIM1 gene which belongs to a system that “has an established role in body weight homeostasis and sexual function.”
“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,” said lead author, Eric Jorgenson, PhD, in a press release.
“Identifying the first genetic risk factor for erectile dysfunction is an exciting discovery because it opens the door for investigations into new, genetic-based therapies,” he added.
“First Genetic Risk Factor for Erectile Dysfunction Identified”
(Press release. October 8, 2018)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Jorgenson, Eric, et al.
“Genetic variation in the SIM1 locus is associated with erectile dysfunction”
(Full-text. Published online: October 8, 2018)