Falling in love causes genetic changes in women’s bodies
Falling in love with someone causes genetic changes in women’s bodies, new research has found.
A link between falling head over heels for someone and physical sensations, such as palpitations and obsessive thinking, has caused scientists to suspect there could be underlying changes in people’s physiology.
However, there has been little research into how love affects genes to date. Until now, that is.
In a bid to characterise the impact of romantic love on human genome function, researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles took blood samples from 47 young women as they began new relationships over the course of two years.
The team watched for genetic changes in those who fell in love and found that doing so not only impacted women psychologically, but physically too.
“Falling in love is one of the most psychologically potent experiences in human life”, the scientists wrote, according to The Sunday Times.
“New romantic love is accompanied not only by psychological changes.”
They found that falling in love with someone caused genes to produce interferon – a protein that’s usually deployed to fight viruses.
“Falling in love is linked with up-regulation of interferon …This is consistent with innate immune responses to viral infections, the researchers said.
The scientists also looked into how the levels of interferon shift during the course of a relationship and found that those who eventually fell out of love also saw a reduction in interferon-related gene expression.
“Some research suggests that physiological changes associated with romantic love may be attenuated as the relationship matures … the biological correlates of love might abate with the maturation of a longer-term more stable mate bond,” they explained.
While the reason behind the increase in interferon remains unclear, the scientists have suggested it could be to prepare their bodies for impregnation, leading them to believe men’s genetic response to falling in love may differ.
“A crucial next step is to investigate whether a similar pattern of transcriptional shifts occurs in newly-in-love men,” the scientists said.