Home » Health » According to the study, testicles and brain are surprisingly similar – FITBOOK

According to the study, testicles and brain are surprisingly similar – FITBOOK

They are not exactly close together, but they have more in common than long assumed – a Portuguese research team has now discovered a surprising similarity between the testes and the brain. What does that mean for men? And do women also have a “testicular brain”?

The realization may sound amusing in view of the well-known humorous sayings about the “masculine” way of thinking, but it is actually true in a scientific sense: the brain and testicles have a lot in common and are also closely connected. For the researchers at the University of Aveiro and the University of Porto, the discovery of the similarity of the brain and testes is of enormous importance. According to them, it could, among other things, help to better understand and treat male infertility and erectile dysfunction.

Similarity between testes and brain – previous studies provided evidence

The scientists involved came up with the idea of ​​looking at what testicles and brain actually have in common after London’s King’s College discovered a connection between male intelligence and sperm count or sperm quality in an earlier study¹. This raised the question of how much the male genital actually has to do with the organ of thought. In order to find the answer, the team led by study leader Dr. Bárbara Matos the proteins of 33 different tissue types. In addition to the testicles, this also included samples from the heart, intestines, cervix, ovaries and placenta. And lo and behold: “Surprisingly, the human brain and testes have the highest number of proteins in common compared to other body tissues, which means that they also have the greatest similarity in terms of gene expression.” The complete study report² was recently published in the specialist magazine “The Royal Society”.

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Extremely high protein overlap

The human brain is made up of 14,315 different proteins, while the testes have 15,687 proteins. After comparing the two tissues, the team found that they have an incredible 13,442 proteins in common. An interesting discovery, especially since the testicles, unlike the brain, only have two (albeit enormously important) tasks: the production of sperm and testosterone.

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Why the brain and testicles “tick” similarly

On closer inspection, the testicle-brain connection appears far less absurd. Both organs have a very high energy requirement. Therefore, they are accordingly susceptible to oxidative stress, in which so-called free radicals can damage cells and tissues. In order to defend itself against toxic substances, the brain has created an effective barrier with the blood-brain barrier. The testicles had exactly the same “idea” by protecting the sperm and thus fertility with their very own “blood-testicular barrier”. This type of shield is unique to both organs and virtually ensures the continued existence of humanity. And one more thing: the way neurotransmitters communicate with each other in the brain and the testes produce their sperm occurs according to a similar process.

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Reasons for testicular-brain similarity are unclear, but there is a theory

According to the researchers, it is still far from clear why the testicles have their own mind. It is believed that the similarity between the testes and the brain has evolutionary reasons. Thus, the pressures of natural selection may have contributed to both organs “discovering” a similar way of dealing with their respective challenges – which ultimately proved extremely useful. “We urgently need to research the connection further, as it can help us to better understand dysfunctions between the brain and testicles,” it said. This mainly affects erectile dysfunction and the growing problem of decreasing sperm count in men. It stands to reason that the stressful modern way of life could have something to do with it.

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Do women also have “testicular brains”?

No such similarity was found between the brain and female ovaries or uterus. That means – to put it casually – the female brain also functions according to the “testicle principle”. The study does not reveal what this means for women, their sexual health or even their reproductive capacity.

1. Rosalind Arden, Linda S. Gottfredson, Geoffrey Miller, Arand Pierce (2009). Intelligence and semen quality are positively correlated
2. Bárbara Matos, Stephen J. Publicover, Luis Filipe C. Castro, Pedro J. Esteves and Margarida Fardilha (2021). Brain and testis: more alike than previously thought?

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