Vascular endothelial growth factor restores corporeal smooth muscle function in vitro

R. R. Byrne, G. D. Henry, D. S. Rao, T. T.T. Huynh, A. M. Pippen, B. H. Annex, P. O. Hagen, C. F. Donatucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Purpose: The therapeutic use of vasculogenic growth factors has been successfully demonstrated in models of organ ischemia. We determined whether vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) would reverse corporeal smooth muscle dysfunction in the hypercholesterolemic rabbit model of erectile dysfunction. Materials and Methods: A total of 36 New Zealand White rabbits were fed a normal (12) or 1% cholesterol (24) diet and treated after 6 weeks with 0.9 mg. VEGF or vehicle. At 6 weeks 24 rabbits received a single intracavernous dose and 12 received a single intravenous bolus of either drug. Ten days after injection corporeal smooth muscle function was analyzed after relaxation to acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside using isometric tension studies. Corporeal sections were assessed for smooth muscle content with f-actin staining and VEGF expression by immunohistochemical study and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: Endothelium dependent (acetylcholine) and nitric oxide mediated (sodium nitroprusside) smooth muscle relaxation were impaired in cholesterol fed animals (p = 0.021 and 0.003, respectively). Intracavernous VEGF treatment restored sodium nitroprusside mediated relaxation to normal (p = 0.015) and intravenous VEGF restored acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside mediated relaxation (p = 0.014 and 0.018, respectively). Decreased smooth muscle content was noted in cholesterol fed animals versus normal diet controls (p = 0.008), which was not affected by VEGF treatment (p = 0.450). Corporeal endothelial cell content was increased after intracavernous but not intravenous VEGF treatment (p = 0.001 and 0.385, respectively). VEGF expression was augmented after treatment with recombinant VEGF (p <0.001). Conclusions: VEGF administration variably mitigated the impairment of corporeal smooth muscle relaxation in the hypercholesterolemic rabbit model of erectile dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1310-1315
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Endothelial growth factors
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Penile erection
  • Penis
  • Rabbits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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