J Mol Endocrinol


J Mol Endocrinol. 2003 Dec;31(3):401-18

Diminished penile expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and its receptors at the insulin-resistant stage of a type II diabetic rat model: a possible cause for erectile dysfunction in diabetes.


Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8638, Japan.


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is commonly experienced in men with diabetes mellitus. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been extensively documented for its pathogenic significance in different complications of diabetes. We hypothesized that expressions of VEGF, its receptors and its signaling pathway Akt may be drastically altered in diabetic penile tIssues and their alterations may modulate penile expression of the molecules that are believed to play a role in diabetic ED. Otsuka Long-Evans Fatty (OLETF) rats, a type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, were used at the insulin-resistant stage of type II diabetes (20 weeks of age). We determined protein and mRNA expressions of VEGF, its receptors, Akt, nitric oxide synthase isoforms, and apoptosis-related molecules in the penis using immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, in situ hybridization, and real-time quantitative PCR analyses. The penile sections were also submitted to the Tdt-mediated dUTP nick end labeling assay for apoptosis. OLETF rats showed marked reductions in penile expression of VEGF, its two receptors and Akt. In OLETF rat penises, endothelial and neuronal nitric oxide synthase isoforms were expressed less abundantly. Furthermore, while anti-apoptotic markers, Bcl-2 and phosphorylated Bad, were down-regulated, pro-apoptotic markers, active caspase-3 and Bax, were up-regulated, resulting in the appearance of apoptotic cells in the penile tIssues of OLETF rats. The VEGF signaling system would work less well in diabetic penile tIssues as a result of the reduced expression, leading to diminished endothelial production of nitric oxide and apoptosis-related erectile tIssue damage. We propose that the abnormalities of the VEGF signaling system in the penis may play a role in the pathophysiology of diabetic ED.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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