Correlations of purinergic, cholinergic and adrenergic functions in rabbit corporal cavernosal tissue

Pharmacology. 1992;45(5):241-9. doi: 10.1159/000139007.


Erection involves cholinergic, adrenergic as well as non-cholinergic non-adrenergic nerves. Endothelial-derived relaxation factor plays an important role in mediating smooth muscle relaxation, which is crucial in initiating and maintaining erection. We previously showed that adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) can induce significant relaxation in rabbit corporal cavernosal tissue. The present study presents effects of different neurotransmitters and the role of endothelium in controlling the contractile/relaxant status of rabbit cavernosal tissue. These studies utilized isolated tissue strips prepared from the corpus cavernosum of sexually mature male New Zealand white rabbits. The results can be summarized as follows: (1) field stimulation caused relaxations with rebound contractions in most strips; (2) bethanechol (250 microM), isoproterenol (20 microM) and ATP (1 mM) all induced relaxations, though the relaxation induced by bethanechol was poorly sustained; (3) removal of the endothelium by rubbing decreased the relaxation to field stimulation and virtually eliminated the relaxation induced by bethanechol, but had no effect on the relaxation responses to isoproterenol and ATP; (4) methoxamine (200 microM) stimulated a sustained contraction of corporal cavernosal tissue, an effect unaltered by rubbing the strips; (5) low dose epinephrine induced relaxation, whereas higher concentrations contracted the tissue, and (6) beta-adrenergic inhibition with propranolol (20 microM) was significantly more effective than mascarinic blockade with atropine (20 microM) in eliminating relaxation caused by field stimulation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atropine / pharmacology
  • Drug Interactions
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Male
  • Muscle Relaxation / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects*
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Parasympathomimetics / pharmacology*
  • Penile Erection / drug effects*
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, Purinergic / drug effects
  • Sympathomimetics / pharmacology*


  • Parasympathomimetics
  • Receptors, Purinergic
  • Sympathomimetics
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Atropine