Arginase II deletion increases corpora cavernosa relaxation in diabetic mice

Haroldo A. Toque, Rita C. Tostes, Lin Yao, Zhimin Xu, R. Clinton Webb, Ruth B. Caldwell, R. William Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Introduction. Diabetes-induced erectile dysfunction involves elevated arginase (Arg) activity and expression. Because nitric oxide (NO) synthase and Arg share and compete for their substrate L-arginine, NO production is likely linked to regulation of Arg. Arg is highly expressed and implicated in erectile dysfunction. Aim. It was hypothesized that Arg-II isoform deletion enhances relaxation function of corpora cavernosal (CC) smooth muscle in a streptozotocin (STZ) diabetic model. Methods. Eight weeks after STZ-induced diabetes, vascular functional studies, Arg activity assay, and protein expression levels of Arg and constitutive NOS (using Western blots) were assessed in CC tissues from nondiabetic wild type (WT), diabetic (D) WT (WT+D), Arg-II knockout (KO), and Arg-II KO+D mice (N=8-10 per group). Main Outcome Measures. Inhibition or lack of arginase results in facilitation of CC relaxation in diabetic CC. Results. Strips of CC from Arg-II KO mice exhibited an enhanced maximum endothelium-dependent relaxation (from 70+3% to 84+4%) and increased nitrergic relaxation (by 55%, 71%, 42%, 42%, and 24% for 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16Hz, respectively) compared with WT mice. WT+D mice showed a significant reduction of endothelium-dependent maximum relaxation (44+8%), but this impairment of relaxation was significantly prevented in Arg-II KO+D mice (69+4%). Sympathetic-mediated and alpha-adrenergic agent-induced contractile responses also were increased in CC strips from D compared with non-D controls. Contractile responses were significantly lower in Arg-II KO control and D versus the WT groups. WT+D mice increased Arg activity (1.5-fold) and Arg-II protein expression and decreased total and phospho-eNOS at Ser-1177, and nNOS levels. These alterations were not seen in Arg-II KO mice. Additionally, the Arg inhibitor BEC (50μM) enhanced nitrergic and endothelium-dependent relaxation in CC of WT+D mice. Conclusion. These studies show for the first time that Arg-II deletion improves CC relaxation in type 1 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-733
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Arginase
  • Diabetes
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Nitric Oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology


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