Spinal proerectile effect of apomorphine in the anesthetized rat

Int J Impot Res. 2001 Apr;13(2):110-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3900654.


Considering the presence of dopaminergic receptors in the lumbosacral spinal cord, we tested whether apomorphine could exert a proerectile effect by acting at the spinal level. Intracavernous (ICP) and blood pressures (BP) were measured in anesthetized rats. ICP rises were quantified (duration, percentage of ICPmaximum/meanBP (ICPmax/BPx100), area under ICP curve (AUC/BP) and sum of AUC/BP after intravenous (i.v.) and intrathecal (i.t.) injections of apomorphine alone or in presence of i.t. oxytocin (10 ng). Both 10 and 30 microg i.v. apomorphine dosings elicited erectile events evidenced by ICP rises. Upon the 30 microg i.v. injection, duration of ICP rises were increased from 25+/-10 to 69+/-18 s (P<0.001), ICPmax/BPx100 from 21+/-3 to 50+/-14% (P=0.001), AUC/BP from 3+/-1 to 14+/-6 s (P=0.002) and sum of AUC/BP from 5+/-7 to 34+/-35 s (P=0.021). Upon 30 microg i.t. injections of apomorphine at the lumbosacral level, the number of ICP rises was increased from 0.2+/-0.4 to 3.0+/-1.5, ICPmax/BPx100 from 16+/-9 to 43+/-12 and sum of AUC/BP from 1+/-3 to 31+/-15 s compared to vehicle injection (P<0.05 for all parameters). Injection of 30 microg i.v. or i.t. apomorphine non-significantly enhanced the number and amplitude of the ICP rises induced by 10 ng i.t. oxytocin. However, the enhancement of the amplitude of the ICP rises elicited by i.t. oxytocin was more pronounced with i.t. apomorphine than with i.v. apomorphine. These results suggest the existence of a spinal site of action for apomorphine which may (1) participate to generation of erection and (2) exerts a facilitator effect on erection of supraspinal origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Male
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology
  • Penile Erection / drug effects*
  • Penile Erection / physiology*
  • Penis / drug effects
  • Penis / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Oxytocin
  • Apomorphine