Effects of hypoxia on endothelin-1 sensitivity in the corpus cavernosum.

The penis remains in a hypo-oxygenated, flaccid state for a large majority of the time. In this study, we investigated the effect of changing oxygen tension on the expression and functional activity of endothelin-1 (ET-1) receptors in the penis. Experiments were performed in rabbit and human corpora cavernosa (CC) as well as in human fetal penile tissue and cell cultures [human fetal penile endothelial cells (hfPECs) and human fetal smooth muscle cells (hfPSMCs)]. Endothelin A (ETA) receptors are expressed by both endothelial and muscular cells in all tissues investigated. Only penile endothelial cells express endothelin B (ETB) receptors, which are further turned on during experimental hypoxia. In addition, hypoxia also allows ETB expression in the muscular compartment without affecting ETA expression. This hypoxia-induced over-expression of ETB decreased the contractile activity of ET-1 and increased ETB-mediated relaxation. The latter was essentially related to increased ETB-mediated nitric oxide formation in hfPEC and even in hfPSMC. Hypoxia also induced a time-dependent down-regulation of RhoA and Rho kinase (ROK) expression which, in turn, participated in the decreased contractile activity of ET-1 in the hypoxic penile tissue. Accordingly, during hypoxia, an ROK inhibitor, Y27632, was less effective in relaxing ET-1-precontracted strips. In conclusion, prolonged (24 h) hypoxia stimulated several counter-regulatory mechanisms in penile tissue, including up-regulation of ETB and down-regulation of RhoA/ROK pathways, which may help to preserve CC hypo-oxygenation, allowing smooth muscle relaxation and, most probably, penile erection.
AuthorsS Filippi, M Marini, G B Vannelli, C Crescioli, S Granchi, L Vignozzi, M Luconi, P Ferruzzi, A Morelli, G Forti, F Ledda, M Maggi
JournalMolecular human reproduction (Mol Hum Reprod) Vol. 9 Issue 12 Pg. 765-74 (Dec 2003) ISSN: 1360-9947 [Print] England
PMID14614038 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't)
Chemical References
  • Endothelin-1
  • Receptor, Endothelin A
  • Receptor, Endothelin B
  • Animals
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Endothelin-1 (antagonists & inhibitors, metabolism, pharmacology)
  • Humans
  • Immunochemistry
  • Male
  • Penis (chemistry, drug effects, physiology)
  • Rabbits
  • Receptor, Endothelin A (analysis)
  • Receptor, Endothelin B (analysis)
  • Signal Transduction

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