In the 1850s, German anatomist Wilhelm Krause discovered mysterious nerve-filled structures in the human genital organs. He called them Krause’s corpuscles and described their location in various tissues, such as the penis head, clitoris, lips, tongue and conjunctiva of the eye. However, until now, it was not clear what role these structures play in mammalian physiology.
Recent studies conducted by researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the United States have allowed a more detailed study of Krause’s corpuscles and determined their function. During experiments on mice, it was found that these nerve structures specialize in transmitting mechanical vibrations and “light touches” to the central nervous system. They have nothing to do with the reaction to cold, as previously assumed.
Krause’s corpuscles were found in both the penis and clitoris of mice. Although their number was the same, the structures were distributed differently due to differences in head size. Researchers used genetic tools to determine that the nerves hidden inside Krause’s corpuscles responded to mechanical stimuli and exhibited low mechanical thresholds and rapid adaptation. This explains why light brushes and vibrations are so pleasant for mammals.
Interestingly, the absence of Krause’s corpuscles did not prevent male mice from having sex, but the act was somewhat shortened and manifested in shorter thrust attacks, delayed onset or more interruptions.
Thus, the results of this study suggest that Krause’s corpuscles play an important role in sexual satisfaction in mammals. They are specialized in transmitting mechanical stimuli and touches to the central nervous system, which causes arousal in male mice.
This discovery is important not only for understanding mammalian physiology, but also for developing new treatments for sexual disorders and increasing sexual satisfaction in humans.