Chronic penile denervation in the rat: effect on cavernous tissue morphology and function

Int J Impot Res. 1995 Sep;7(3):165-74.


We evaluated the effects of chronic penile denervation on cavernous tissue morphology and function in 36 Sprague-Dawley rats. At age seven weeks, 18 animals underwent bilateral cavernous nerve neurectomy: 18 animals underwent sham operation as a control. A functional, biochemical and morphological assessment of the rats' penises was performed at 4 months. In denervated rats, intracavernous pressure failed to rise with electrostimulation of the pelvic plexus. However, a normal rise in pressure was found with direct intracavernous injection of sodium nitroprusside and papaverine. Sodium dodecylsulfate polyacrylamide (SDS) gel electrophoresis of the penile homogenate showed subtle differences between denervated and control animals. Based upon the histological findings there was no difference in staining of the cavernous tissue for acetylcholinesterase- and catecholamine-positive nerve fibers between experimental and control animals, since the innervation density was not quantified and the number of fibers was not counted. We conclude that chronic cavernous nerve neurectomy does not cause significant morphological or functional changes to the penile erectile tissue of rats.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Denervation / adverse effects
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / etiology
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / pathology
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Nitroprusside / administration & dosage
  • Papaverine / administration & dosage
  • Penile Erection / drug effects
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Penis / blood supply*
  • Penis / innervation*
  • Penis / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


  • Catecholamines
  • Nitroprusside
  • Papaverine
  • Acetylcholinesterase