Coexistence of nitric oxide synthase, tyrosine hydroxylase and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide in human penile tissue--a triple histochemical and immunohistochemical study

J Urol. 1995 Feb;153(2):530-4. doi: 10.1097/00005392-199502000-00077.


Recently, nitric oxide (NO) has been believed to act as a neuronal messenger to mediate penile erection. In the present study using human penile tissue, we investigated the coexistence of neuronal NO synthase (NOS), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) by a triple staining method using NADPH diaphorase (ND) staining, a specific histochemical marker of neuronal NOS, and immunohistochemical staining for TH and VIP. Numerous ND-positive nerve fibers and TH-containing fibers were seen in axon bundles, but their distributions were different. Only a few axons in the bundles showed VIP immunoreactivity. Abundant fine varicose nerve terminals innervating cavernous smooth muscles and deep and helicine arteries were observed. The proportion of fibers showing TH-immunoreactivity in ND-positive terminals in the cavernous space was about 25%, and that of VIP was about 40%. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide may act as a coworker in these fibers both in cavernous trabeculae and around arteries, as about 40% of NOS-containing fibers also showed VIP immunoreactivity. The physiological significance of the colocalization of TH and NOS is unclear, and further studies are required to know the physiological significance of the colocalization of NOS and other neurotransmitters in penile tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Oxidoreductases / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth / chemistry
  • Muscle, Smooth / innervation
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase / analysis*
  • Nerve Fibers / chemistry
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Penis / chemistry*
  • Penis / innervation
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis*
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / analysis*


  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Amino Acid Oxidoreductases
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase