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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35041. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035041. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

A genome-wide association study of female sexual dysfunction.

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  • 1Biological and Experimental Psychology Group, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom.



Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is an important but controversial problem with serious negative impact on women's quality of life. Data from twin studies have shown a genetic contribution to the development and maintenance of FSD.


We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on 2.5 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1,104 female twins (25-81 years of age) in a population-based register and phenotypic data on lifelong sexual functioning. Although none reached conventional genome-wide level of significance (10 × -8), we found strongly suggestive associations with the phenotypic dimension of arousal (rs13202860, P = 1.2 × 10(-7); rs1876525, P = 1.2 × 10(-7); and rs13209281 P = 8.3 × 10(-7)) on chromosome 6, around 500 kb upstream of the locus HTR1E (5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 1E) locus, related to the serotonin brain pathways. We could not replicate previously reported candidate SNPs associated with FSD in the DRD4, 5HT2A and IL-1B loci.


We report the first GWAS of FSD symptoms in humans. This has pointed to several "risk alleles" and the implication of the serotonin and GABA pathways. Ultimately, understanding key mechanisms via this research may lead to new FSD treatments and inform clinical practice and developments in psychiatric nosology.

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