Restoring Erectile Function by Antioxidant Therapy in Diabetic Rats

Hiroshi Hirata, Ken Kawamoto, Nobuyuki Kikuno, Toshifumi Kawakami, Kazumori Kawakami, Sharanjot Saini, Soichiro Yamamura, Rajvir Dahiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: Diabetes mediates an increase in reactive oxygen species that can lead to impaired endothelial function, decreased smooth muscle in the diabetic corpus cavernosum and increased apoptosis. We hypothesized that antioxidant therapy may restore erectile function by inhibiting apoptosis in diabetic rat crura. Materials and Methods: A total of 40 male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized to 5 groups of 8 each, including healthy controls, rats with diabetes, and rats with diabetes with the antioxidant tempol (4-hydroxytetramethyl-piperidine-1-oxyl) (Sigma-Aldrich®), with insulin, and with tempol and insulin. Intracavernous pressure was measured for functional analysis. Smooth muscle and collagen fiber levels in the rat penile corpus cavernosum were assessed by hematoxylin and eosin, and Masson's trichrome staining. Endothelial cells were assessed by CD31 staining. Reactive oxygen species related genes were analyzed by cDNA microarray. We confirmed mRNA and protein expression profiles for these genes in diabetic and treated rats using real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. TUNEL assay was done to analyze apoptosis status. Results: Intracavernous pressure in diabetic rats was significantly decreased vs controls. After treatment with tempol or insulin alone intracavernous pressure was significantly increased compared to that in untreated diabetic rats. In the diabetic group mean smooth muscle area significantly decreased but was restored after combined tempol and insulin. Endothelial cell area in diabetic rats significantly decreased and was not restored by any treatments. However, apoptosis was restored to normal by combined insulin and tempol. Of 84 reactive oxidative stress and antioxidant genes 32 were identified specific to diabetic rats compared to healthy controls. UCP3 expression was significantly increased in diabetic rats and normal levels were restored by all treatments. Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first report that tempol and insulin can restore erectile function in diabetic rats by inhibiting apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2518-2525
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • diabetes mellitus
  • gene expression
  • insulin
  • penis
  • tempol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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