Effect of rho-kinase inhibition on vasoconstriction in the penile circulation

Thomas M. Mills, Kanchan Chitaley, Christopher J. Wingard, Ronald W. Lewis, R. Clinton Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


A recent report from this laboratory (Chitaley K, Wingard C, Webb R, Branam H, Stopper V, Lewis R, and Mills T. Nature Medicine 7: 119-122, 2001) showed that inhibition of Rho-kinase increased the erectile response (intracavernosal pressure and mean arterial pressure) by a process that does not require nitric oxide or cGMP. The present study investigated whether vasoconstrictor agents, which are active in the penis, act via the Rho-kinase pathway. Western analysis revealed RhoA and Rho-kinase protein in the penis. Treatment with the selective Rho-kinase inhibitor Y-27632 significantly increased the magnitude of the erectile response. Intracavernous administration of endothelin-1 (ET-1; 50 pmol) or methoxamine (10 μg/kg) reduced the erectile response to autonomic stimulation. If Y-27632 was given before ET-1 or methoxamine, the vasoconstrictor effect was reduced, and intracavernosal pressure and mean arterial pressure remained elevated. However, when given after methoxamine, Y-27632 had a reduced vasodilatory effect, and Y-27632 had no vasodilatory effect when given after ET-1. These findings suggest that ET-1 and methoxamine increase Rho-kinase activity in the cavernous circulation and support the hypothesis that the vasoconstriction that maintains the penis in the nonerect state is mediated, in part, by the Rho-kinase pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1269-1273
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Endothelin-1
  • Methoxamine
  • Penile erection
  • Penis
  • Vasodilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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