Probing the genomic landscape of human sexuality: a critical systematic review of the literature

Nicola Luigi Bragazzi, Manlio Converti, Andrea Crapanzano, Riccardo Zerbetto, Anna Siri, Rola Khamisy-Farah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Whether human sexuality is the result of nature or nurture (or their complex interplay) represents a hot, often ideologically driven, and highly polarized debate with political and social ramifications, and with varying, conflicting findings reported in the literature. A number of heritability and behavioral genetics studies, including pedigree-based investigations, have hypothesized inheritance patterns of human sexual behaviors. On the other hand, in most twin, adoption, and nuclear family studies, it was not possible to disentangle between underlying genetic and shared environmental sources. Furthermore, these studies were not able to estimate the precise extent of genetic loading and to shed light both on the number and nature of the putative inherited factors, which remained largely unknown. Molecular genetic studies offer an unprecedented opportunity to overcome these drawbacks, by dissecting the molecular basis of human sexuality and allowing a better understanding of its biological roots if any. However, there exists no systematic review of the molecular genetics of human sexuality. Therefore, we undertook this critical systematic review and appraisal of the literature, with the ambitious aims of filling in these gaps of knowledge, especially from the methodological standpoint, and providing guidance to future studies. Sixteen studies were finally retained and overviewed in the present systematic review study. Seven studies were linkage studies, four studies utilized the candidate gene approach, and five studies were GWAS investigations. Limitations of these studies and implications for further research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1184758
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Bragazzi, Converti, Crapanzano, Zerbetto, Siri and Khamisy-Farah.


  • behavioral genomics
  • candidate gene study
  • critical systematic review
  • genome-wide association study (GWAS)
  • human sexuality
  • linkage study
  • sexual orientation


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