Endothelin-1-induced vasoconstriction is inhibited during erection in rats

T. M. Mills, D. M. Pollock, R. W. Lewis, H. S. Branam, C. J. Wingard

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16 Scopus citations


Recent evidence indicates that endothelin-1 (ET-1) might be a principal vasoconstrictor in the penis. We report that ET-1 injection into the cavernous sinuses before erection sharply reduced the magnitude of subsequent erections. Corpus cavernosum pressure-to-mean arterial pressure ratios (CCP/MAP), with maximal ganglionic stimulation, were 0.62 ± 0.05 before ET-1 injection and 0.31 ± 0.05 after, indicating that ET-1 acted as a vasoconstrictor. When ET-1 was injected during a maximal neurally induced erection, the ability of ET-1 to attenuate subsequent erections was diminished (CCP/MAP 0.75 ± 0.02 before ET-1, 0.61 ± 0.03 after). At submaximal stimulation voltages, injection of ET-1 during erection also attenuated its vasoconstrictive effect. Similarly, when ET-1 was injected during erection induced by intracavernosal injection of the nitric oxide (NO) donor NOR-1, subsequent erections were not significantly suppressed (CCP/MAP 0.53 ± 0.04 before ET-1, 0.45 ± 0.04 after). These findings that ET-1-induced vasoconstriction is attenuated during erection are consistent with the hypothesis that NO mediates erection both by initiating pathways that cause smooth muscle relaxation and by inhibiting the vasoconstrictive actions of ET-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R476-R483
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2 50-2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Nitric oxide donors
  • Nonadrenergic noncholinergic stimulation
  • Smooth muscle relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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