Purpose: Erectile dysfunction (ED) continues to be a significant problem for men following radical prostatectomy. We hypothesize that intracavernous injection of BDNF-hypersecreting human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells (hUCB-MSCs) can ameliorate ED in a rat model of cavernous nerve electrocautery injury (CNEI).
Methods: Forty-two male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups: sham + PBS (n = 6), CNEI + PBS (n = 12), CNEI + hUCB-MSCs (n = 12) and CNEI + BDNF-hUCB-MSCs (n = 12). At day 28 post-surgery, erectile function was examined and specimens were harvested for histology. Immunofluorescence staining, Masson's trichrome staining and transmission electron microscopy were performed to determine the structural changes in corpus cavernosum. Cells that are injected into penis were labeled by BrdU and tracked by immunofluorescence staining. Three days post-surgery, the concentration of BDNF protein in penile tissues was measured by Western blotting.
Results: Rats intracavernosally injected with BDNF-hUCB-MSCs showed the most significant improvement in the ratio of maximal ICP to MAP (ICP/MAP). Histological examinations showed moderate recovery of nNOS-positive nerve fibers, ratio of smooth muscle to collagen and smooth muscle content in the CNEI + hUCB-MSCs group and remarkable recovery in the CNEI + BDNF-hUCB-MSCs group compared to the CNEI + PBS group. By TEM examination, atrophy of myelinated and non-myelinated nerve fibers was noted in CNEI + PBS group and significant recovery was observed in two treated groups. There were more BrdU-positive cells in the BDNF-hUCB-MSCs group than in the hUCB-MSCs group both in the penis and in the MPG. Three days post-surgery, the concentration of BDNF protein in penile tissues in BDNF-hUCB-MSCs group was much higher than in other groups.
Conclusions: Intracavernous injection of BDNF-hypersecreting hUCB-MSCs can enhance the recovery of erectile function, promote the CNs regeneration and inhibit corpus cavernosum fibrosis after CNEI in a rat model.
Keywords: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF); Electrocautery injury; Erectile dysfunction (ED); Human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells (hUCB-MSCs); Radical prostatectomy (RP).