Synthetic nitrovasodilators are effective, in vitro, in relaxing penile tissue from impotent men: the findings and their implications

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1989 Jan;67(1):78-81. doi: 10.1139/y89-014.


Normal penile erectile function is dependent on arterial adequacy, appropriate venous occlusion, neurohumoral factors, and finally the relaxation of penile cavernous trabecular smooth muscle. The present experiments were designed to test whether compounds related to endothelium-derived relaxing factor have a role in penile smooth muscle relaxation and whether this role is preserved in clinically impotent tissue. Isometric tension experiments were conducted using strips of human tissue (appropriately obtained) from patients found to be impotent by clinical criteria. Glyceryl trinitrate and isosorbide dinitrate produced maximal relaxations of 66 and 63%, respectively, in tissues contracted with norepinephrine: 50% relaxation was observed at 6 x 10(-7) and 8 x 10(-5) M, respectively. The finding of a relaxant response to synthetic nitrovasodilators in "impotent" tissue implies that (i) complete end organ (smooth muscle) failure is not always, if ever, seen, (ii) endothelium-derived factors probably play a role in erectile tissue parallel with their role in other vascular tissues, (iii) more proximal factors may be responsible for clinical impotence, and (iv) synthetic nitrovasodilators may have a role in the therapy of clinical impotence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Isosorbide Dinitrate / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle Relaxation / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Nitroglycerin / pharmacology*
  • Norepinephrine / pharmacology*
  • Penile Erection
  • Penis / blood supply
  • Penis / drug effects*
  • Penis / physiology


  • Nitroglycerin
  • Isosorbide Dinitrate
  • Norepinephrine