Modulation of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)-mediated relaxation by nitric oxide and prostanoids in the rabbit corpus cavernosum

J Urol. 1995 Mar;153(3 Pt 1):807-10.


The polypeptide VIP has been proposed as an inhibitory nonadrenergic, noncholinergic (NANC) neurotransmitter involved in the relaxation of cavernosal smooth muscle during erection. However, the specific mechanism(s) by which VIP exerts its effect is unknown. To determine whether VIP is involved in NANC-mediated cavernosal relaxation, strips of corpus cavernosum from New Zealand White rabbits were hung in tissue baths; atropine and guanethidine were added to block cholinergic and adrenergic neurotransmission, respectively. The tissue was then submaximally precontracted with norepinephrine (NE) and relaxed by electrical field stimulation (EFS; 10 V square waves, 0.5 msec. duration, 10 second trains at 5, 15 and 40 Hz) before and after preincubation with the VIP antagonist, VIP 10-28. To evaluate the role of nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandins on the relaxant effect of VIP in the corpus cavernosum, the strips were contracted with NE and subsequently relaxed with cumulative doses of VIP (10(-10) to 10(-6) M.). After VIP dose-response curves were obtained, the strips were preincubated with N omega-nitro-L-arginine (NOARG, an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, 10(-4) M.) and the VIP dose-response curve was repeated. Indomethacin (10(-5) M.) was added to one-half of the NOARG treated strips to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis. VIP 10-28 inhibited EFS-induced relaxation (p < 0.05) and produced dose-dependent relaxation, which was inhibited by NOARG (p < 0.05). In contrast, the VIP-induced relaxation was more pronounced in the presence of indomethacin (p < 0.05). Moreover, indomethacin substantially reversed the NOARG inhibition of VIP relaxation (p < 0.05). These results suggest that VIP is a mediator of NANC cavernosal relaxation and that NO synthesis is involved in VIP-induced NANC relaxation in the corpus cavernosum. In addition, the presence of vasoconstrictive prostanoids modulates this VIP-mediated NANC relaxation. Therefore, VIP appears to contribute to NANC neurally mediated cavernosal relaxation, and its mechanisms of relaxation are dependent on prostanoid and involve the generation of NO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electric Stimulation
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Indomethacin / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Muscle Relaxation / drug effects
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology*
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Nitroarginine
  • Penis / physiology*
  • Prostaglandins / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / physiology*


  • Prostaglandins
  • Nitroarginine
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Arginine
  • Indomethacin