Ongoing studies in this laboratory are designed to determine the role of androgens in the maintenance of the erectile response in the rat. Testosterone-treated castrated rats (TESTO) and untreated castrated rats (CASTRATE) were used for measurement of the rate at which blood flows into the cavernous sinuses by timed collections of blood after partial amputation of the penis. A laser Doppler flow meter was employed to determine whether androgens also regulate the veno-occlusive mechanism that controls the rate of blood flow out of the sinuses. Erection was induced by direct electrical stimulation of the autonomic ganglion that controls cavernosal blood flow in the erectile response. The results of these studies showed that blood flow into the sinuses was approximately twice as great in the TESTO animals as the CASTRATE rats. Furthermore, during ganglionic stimulation, veno-occlusion occurred in the TESTO rats but failed to occur in the CASTRATE rats. The dependence of these responses on nitric oxide (NO) was demonstrated by showing that injection of sodium nitroprusside (SNP) enhances the intracavernosal pressure response in TESTO rats but not CASTRATE animals. However, when SNP injection was combined with ganglionic stimulation, veno- occlusion did occur in the CASTRATE animals. Taken together, these studies show that both the rate of blood flow into the cavernous sinuses and the blood flow out are under androgenic regulation and may involve the actions of NO.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology