Soluble guanylate cyclase and cGMP-dependent protein kinase I expression in the human corpus cavernosum

Int J Impot Res. 2000 Jun;12(3):157-64. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3900524.


Nitric oxide (NO) as a mediator in smooth muscle cells causes rapid and robust increases in cGMP levels. The cGMP-dependent protein kinase I has emerged as an important signal transduction mediator for smooth muscle relaxation. The purpose of this study was to examine the existence and distribution of two key enzymes of the NO/cGMP pathway, the cGMP-dependent kinase I (cGK I) and the soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) in human cavernosal tissue. The expression of the enzymes were examined in corpus cavernosum specimens of 23 patients. Eleven potent patients suffered from penile deviations and were treated via Nesbit's surgical method. Nine long-term impotent patients underwent implantation of flexible hydraulic prothesis. Three potent patients underwent trans-sexual operations. Expression of the sGC and cGK I were examined immunohistochemically using specific antibodies. In all specimens of cavernosal tissue a distinct immunoreactivity was observed in different parts and structures. We found a high expression of sGC and cGK I in smooth muscle cells of vessels and in the fibromuscular stroma. The endothelium of the cavernosal sinus, of the cavernosal arteries, and the cavernosal nerve fibers showed an immunoreactivity against sGC. The distribution analysis of cGK I revealed a predominately vesicular localization in smooth muscle cells. The examination of the endothelium showed no clear immunoreactivity against cGK I. There was no distinct difference in immunoreactivity and cellular distribution between potent and impotent patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / analysis*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / enzymology
  • Guanylate Cyclase / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth / blood supply
  • Muscle, Smooth / enzymology*
  • Muscle, Smooth / innervation
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / enzymology
  • Penis / blood supply
  • Penis / enzymology*
  • Solubility
  • Stromal Cells / enzymology


  • Actins
  • Cyclic GMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Guanylate Cyclase