Study links Genetic Difference to Sexual Orientation among Straight and Gay Individuals

Study links Genetic Difference to Sexual Orientation among Straight and Gay Individuals

Researchers have reportedly found difference in two genes among straight and gay individuals which could explain sexual orientation. The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. The study team compared genomes for straight and gay men and found differences between two genes.

The research was conducted by a team at the North Shore University in Illinois. The study team found differences in TSHR, responsible for thyroid function, among gay and straight individuals. TSHR has previously been linked to sexual preferences and to weight loss.

Another gene with difference among men with different sexual orientation was SLITRK6, a gene linked to brain development and hormone production. Earlier studies have found that hypothalamus region of the brain is 34 percent larger among gay men compared to straight men. The hypothalamus is crucial for producing hormones linked to control sex drive

The current study involved genome check for 1,077 gay men and 1,231 straight men. The study team informed that the goal of this study was to search for genetic underpinnings of male sexual orientation, and thus ultimately increase our knowledge of biological mechanisms underlying sexual orientation.

The study team added that their findings could be ‘best described as speculative’. More research will be needed on the topic. However, the study adds credibility to earlier theory that sexual preferences are inherited.

Research team lead Alan Sanders informed, "Because sexuality is an essential part of human life ? for individuals and society ? it is important to understand the development and expression of human sexual orientation."

Dr. Sanders added, “What we have accomplished is a first step for genome wide study on the trait, and we hope that subsequent larger studies will further illuminate its genetic contributions.”

"Even if a gene variant does show some correlation with sexual orientation, this does not mean that the gene is in any way responsible for being gay ? it just means it has some association with a trait that is more likely to found in the relatively few people involved as subjects in the study," said Robin Lovell-Badge from The Francis Crick Institute in the UK. Lovell-Badge was not involved with the current study.

Commenting on study findings, Dr. Ilan Dar-Nimrod of the University of Sydney said, "n this instance, it results in a heterosexual person feeling a clear ‘us’ and ‘them’ that leads to distancing from ‘them’ (i.e. gay people). Such a feeling may fuel prejudice."