Cincinnati--In the August 30th edition of Science
magazine, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Medical
Center report that they have identified a group of cells found in the
lumbar portion of the spinal cord (lower back) that generates
ejaculation. Lique Coolen, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Cell
Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy at the Vontz Center for Molecular
Studies at UC said, "A better understanding of how these cells control
ejaculation may lead to better treatments in the future for conditions
such as premature ejaculations and the ejaculatory function in men who
have been paralyzed through a traumatic injury to the spine."
Truitt, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Coolen's lab, who
coauthored the research findings. He said, "We tested the significance
of a group of cells in the rat lumbar spinal cord for the control of
male sexual behavior. Removal of these cells resulted in a complete
loss of ejaculation, although other components of sexual behavior
Dr. Coolen said, "These results suggest that
this group of spinal cord cells is essential for ejaculation and form a
critical part of a spinal ejaculation generator." The existence of such
an ejaculation generator has been long hypothesized, based on
observations that the ejaculation reflex remains intact in animals and
humans with spinal cord injury. However, the anatomical site of such a
generator was unknown.
"Our finding is a critical step towards
understanding how the spinal cord controls ejaculation," she added. Dr.
Coolen cautioned that development of clinical treatments is a long way
off. "Further research needs to be done to investigate if these neurons
also exist in the human spinal cord," she said. Science is the weekly journal for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Web site for the magazine is www.sciencemag.org.