This post is about sex and noise, or more broadly, affiliative behavior and neural systems permitting communication.
But first, a story. This is a story about a fish. A male fish. A lonely male fish. One day this lonely male fish saw a beautiful female fish swimming in the weeds.
“Hmmm,” the lonely male fish thought to himself, “I’d sure like to meet that beautiful female fish, but the water near the weeds has a different salinity than my lonely male body is used to. What can I do?”
And the lonely male fishes’ affiliative peptides answered, “Simple, just regulate your vasopressin (fish equivalent). We’ll take care of your body fluid tonicity and salinity. We’ll reduce your body salinity so you can go and mate in water that is brackish, rather than ocean salinity.”
And so the male fishes’ vasopressin (fish equivalent) upregulated or downregulated the fishes’ vasculature and body fluid salinity such that it could join up with the beautiful female fish in the less saline water in the weeds.
The vasopressin system, regulating body fluid salinity in our lonely little fish, continued to exert influence on social bonding. Sometime between fishes without backbones and those without jaws, as evolution permitted live birth in mammals, vasopressin changed a couple amino acids and morphed to include oxytocin. The affiliative function took a bit of a left turn with oxytocin (bonding with a child and enhanced social awareness), nevertheless, the social aspects were preserved, as well as vasopressin’s body fluid regulation.
As the nervous system became increasingly more sophisticated, so did the vasopressin system machinery. And so, vasopressin and its receptors live and work in the body’s plumbing pipes, as vasodialators/constrictors, as well monkeying with affiliative behavior. So, speaking of primates, as we began to hear, see, smell, talk and other neurally advanced ways of communicating to our own, the vasopressin system developed into something of a graphic equalizer, finely tuning our social perceptions and behaviors, at least in some ways. Vasopressin receptor variants and amounts and distributions are associated with all sorts of vocalization from birds to singing mice to people. It is also associated with bed wetting and other body fluid amount/salinity/tonicity. There are various other reports of vasopressin in the olfactory, having to do with chemosensory information. There are no studies on this, but perhaps the connection between vasopressin and the blood-pressure raising office bully is body fluid salinity.
Be that as it may, behold Viagra®: a sky-blue, rhombus-shaped pill, whose name evokes vitality and vigor and virulence and wholly demonstrates the . . je ne sais quoi . . . of Big Pharma DTC (direct to consumer adverts) (Blogged here). Viagra, but not others of its ilk, is reportedly associated with deafness. Here is an FDA release from 2007, and there are more recent studies.But, the prof. who sez that Viagra causes deafness has a credibility issue — namely, his previous study, that Viagra causes blindness, was pretty well discredited. (See Pharmalot, and the comments ex post for confirmation that Big Pharma followers haven’t had any sudden attacks of maturity lately.)
Yet, there’s something here. PDE5 inhibitors that act to mimic cGMP are associated with widening and constricting blood vessels. We also note that CD38 and Ca2+ signaling is yet again on the scene, in that certain CD38 activation involves cGMP mediating Ca2+ signaling in ways that are too complicated for us to clearly understand and so we won’t even attempt to explain it here. It looks like one big ball of calcium channel signaling ebbing and flowing, inducing aquaporins (that have water going into and out of cells).
So far, this sounds vasopressin-like: vasodilation/constriction and neural information geared toward affiliative communication, like vocalization, hearing and smell/chemosensory perception. Plus, apparently, PDE5 inhibitors are also oxytocin inhibitors, according to a recently issued patent from our creative and inventive friends at Pfizer who may not know that they’re our friends if they are oxytocin is inhibited: ***Revised 05.25.10 - These are not the PDE5 inhibitors for ED, these are other compounds for PE, and actually much more interesting. Apparently oxytocin relates to prematurity, to keep this G-rated, in autonomic muscle contraction. Inhibiting oxytocin also inhibits the premature aspect, apparently. Nevertheless, lack of oxytocin emitted results in lack of oxytocin transmitted to the recipient. ***
And so, the lesson of the day is that the trade off for non-natural mating is a non-natural relationship — like strangers in the night, exchanging glances, strangers in the night, what were the chances. . .(we digress, but here it is via YouTube)
And Pfizer - please make a Viagra-type molecule is more of a love potion, and avoids the oxytocin-inhibitory effects. Wouldn’t it be great if Big Pharma redeemed itself by making a love potion that, as a prodrug degradation product, when peed out and mixed with metropolitan drinking water, resulted in drinking water enhancing the feeling of love, love, love, ‘cuz love is all you need, after all.
Not to blame Big Pharma for the total large-scale tragi-disasters indicating that the world is coming to some sort of pathetic, pre-mature semi-end prior to the sun exploding. But. Notice that the people in charge are middle aged males – the Viagra demographic. Perhaps they’re all on PDE5 inhibitors. Is their oxytocin inhibited? Perhaps they are all oxytocin-challenged, and therefore supremely indifferent to the effects of their actions on real, live people? * * *Revised 05.26.10, nope, probably not oxytocin inhibited.* * *