Erectile function (erection and detumescence) involves the complex interaction of direct neuronal stimulation of corporal smooth muscle, neurohumoral release of specific endothelial contractile and relaxant factors, and secondary modulation by a variety of putative neuropeptides and vasoactive modulators. This complexity can be demonstrated through field stimulation of isolated strips of corporal smooth muscle. Field stimulation of rabbit corpus cavernosum tissue strips can result in relaxation, contraction, or a biphasic response depending on the frequency and the power utilized. In our initial in-vitro studies we characterized the autonomic components of this response by exposing corporal tissue strips to a variety of autonomic agonists and antagonists including phentolamine, isoproterenol, methoxamine, propranolol, bethanechol, atropine and ATP. The results of these studies demonstrate that adrenergic, cholinergic, endothelial, and non-adrenergic, non-cholinergic [NANC] systems participate in the response of the corporal smooth muscle to field stimulation (either directly or indirectly). Many studies which utilize human corpus cavernosum obtain the tissue from transsexual males who have undergone castration and extended estrogen therapy. It is unclear what effects both castration +/- estrogen therapy has on the pharmacological response of the corpus cavernosum. This question is also of utmost importance for those men that begin this procedure but never complete the transsexual surgery. A second important clinical problem involves priapism (prolonged erection). This is especially prominent in the black community as it is associated with sickle cell anemia.
The specific aim of this two year proposal is to 1) determine how castration +/- estrogen therapy alters the contractile and calcium translocation responses of the corpora to field stimulation, endothelial mediated relaxation, and pharmacological stimulated contraction and relaxation; and 2) develop the methodologies to investigate priapism in animal models. The long-term goals of these studies are to: 1) better define the autonomic mechanisms that regulate erection and detumescence, 2) Correlate these physiological functions with the cellular ionic processes that support the contractile / relaxation function of corporal smooth muscle, and 3) Determine how these physiological and ionic mechanisms are altered in specific experimental pathologies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Small Research Grants (R03)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases B Subcommittee (DDK)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Pennsylvania
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Kwon, H Y; Longhurst, P A; Parsons, K et al. (1996) Effects of glucose deprivation on the contractile response of the rabbit bladder to repetitive stimulation. Neurourol Urodyn 15:71-8
Saito, M; Broderick, G; Wein, A J et al. (1996) Effect of alteration in the extracellular potassium and calcium on field-stimulated relaxation of the rabbit corpus cavernosum. Gen Pharmacol 27:375-8
Saito, M; Broderick, G A; Hypolite, J A et al. (1994) Pharmacological effect of ethanol on the function of rabbit corporal cavernosal tissue. Pharmacology 48:335-40
Broderick, G A; Gordon, D; Hypolite, J et al. (1994) Anoxia and corporal smooth muscle dysfunction: a model for ischemic priapism. J Urol 151:259-62
Levin, R M; Hypolite, J; Broderick, G A (1994) Comparative studies on intracellular calcium and NADH Fluorescence of the rabbit corpus cavernosum. Neurourol Urodyn 13:609-18
Levin, R M; Hypolite, J; Broderick, G A (1994) Comparative studies on rabbit corpus cavernosal contraction and relaxation. An in vitro study. J Androl 15:36-40
Levin, R M; Hypolite, J A; Longhurst, P A et al. (1993) Metabolic studies on the rabbit corpus cavernosum. J Androl 14:329-34