Objective: The study the effects of oral administered icariin on intracavernosal pressure (ICP) and on expression of the nitrogen oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms in corpus cavernosum (CC) of arteriogenic erectile dysfunction (A-ED) rat model.
Methods: Forty adult male Wistar rats were randomly divided into 4 groups of 10 rats: shame operated group (group A) and three A-ED model groups (group B, C and D). The internal pudendal arteries were isolated and ligated with 7-O nylon thread at both the main trunk and the penile branches to establish the A-ED model. ICP were tested after the operation to make sure the successful model establishment. The groups A and B were treated with saline: and the groups C and D were treated with icariin (5 mg/kg/day and 10mg/kg/day respectively) orally for 30 days. Then the ICP was measured again. The tissues of corpus cavernosum were taken and RT-PCR was used to detect the mRNA expression of nNOS, iNOS and eNOS in CC, and Western-blot was used to detect the protein expression of these NOS isoforms.
Results: The ICP in the group B was significantly decreased compared to the group A (P < 0.01), but the ICP values in the groups C and D were both increased compared to those in the group B (both P < 0.01). The expressions of the mRNA and protein of nNOS, iNOS, and eNOS were all decreased in the group B, however, the mRNA and protein expressions of eNOS were increased a in the groups C and D. In the group C, iNOS also increased. The expression of nNOS showed no obvious changes in the group C and group D.
Conclusion: Chronic oral treatment with Icariin increases the erectile function (ICP) and restores the eNOS expression in CC of A-ED rats. Icariin may have a long-term therapeutic effect on ischemia/hypoxia induced ED.