Pomegranate (POM) juice may benefit the erectile process, but the scientific evidence is lacking. This study evaluates the molecular characterisation and confirmation of POM's action on human corpus cavernosum (HCC) obtained from patients (n = 16) undergoing penile prosthesis implantation. After phenylephrine contraction, the relaxant effects of POM with various inhibitors in the presence and absence of palmitic acid (PA)-induced acute oxidative stress were investigated. Electrical field stimulation (EFS)- and acetylcholine (ACh)-induced relaxation were performed using organ bath preparation. Expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), endothelial (eNOS), phosphodiesterase (PDE)-5A and cGMP levels were assessed in cells from ex vivo organ cultures of HCC, using RT-PCR, ELISA and immunohistochemistry techniques. POM induced marked relaxation of HCC (maximum response: 97.0 ± 3.1%) and reversed the PA-induced decrease of EFS (20 Hz). nNOS transcription was increased by 7-fold in POM-treated cells without influencing eNOS and PDE5A expressions. We conclude that POM induced marked relaxation of HCC via: (i) nNOS stimulation, and (ii) downstream relaxation stimulated by nNOS and cGMP and bypassing the NO and PDE5. This action provides a rationale for the therapeutic or preventative use of POM in men with erectile dysfunction who do not respond well to PDE5 inhibitors.
Keywords: eNOS and PDE5A; erectile dysfunction; human corpus cavernosum; nitric oxide; pomegranate.
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