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Functional and structural changes in internal pudendal arteries underlie erectile dysfunction induced by androgen deprivation

Grant number: 16/01177-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants - Publications - Scientific article
Duration: May 01, 2016 - October 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Pharmacology
Principal Investigator:Fernando Silva Carneiro
Grantee:Fernando Silva Carneiro
Home Institution: Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto (FMRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


Androgen deficiency is strongly associated with erectile dysfunction (ED). Inadequate penile arterial blood flow is one of the major causes of ED. The blood flow to the corpus cavernosum is mainly derived from the internal pudendal arteries (IPAs); however, no study has evaluated the effects of androgen deprivation on IPAs function. We hypothesized that castration impairs IPAs reactivity and structure, contributing to ED. Wistar male rats, 8 weeks-old, were castrated and studied 30 days after orchiectomy. Functional and structural properties of rat IPAs were determined using wire and pressure myograph systems, respectively. Protein expression was determined by western blot and immunohistochemistry. Plasma testosterone levels were determined using the IMMULITE 1000 Immunoassay System. Castrated rats exhibited impaired erectile function, represented by decreased intracavernosal pressure/mean arterial pressure ratio. IPAs from castrated rats exhibited decreased phenylephrine- and electrical field stimulation (EFS)-induced contraction and decreased acetylcholine- and EFS-induced vasodilatation. IPAs from castrated rats exhibited decreased internal diameter, external diameter, thickness of the arterial wall and cross-sectional area. Castration decreased nNOS and alpha actin expression and increased collagen expression, p38 (Thr180/Tyr182) phosphorylation, as well as caspase 3 cleavage. In conclusion, androgen deficiency is associated with impairment of IPA reactivity and structure and increased apoptosis signaling markers. Our findings suggest that androgen deficiency-induced vascular dysfunction is an event involving hypotrophic vascular remodeling of IPAs. (AU)