Gene transfer of endothelial nitric oxide synthase partially restores nitric oxide synthesis and erectile function in streptozotocin diabetic rats

Trinity J. Bivalacqua, Mustafa F. Usta, Hunter C. Champion, Dave Adams, Dennis B. McNamara, Asim B. Abdel-Mageed, Philip J. Kadowitz, Wayne J.G. Hellstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We determined whether adenoviral gene transfer of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) to the penis of streptozotocin induced diabetic rats could improve the impaired erectile response. Materials and Methods: Two experimental groups of animals were transfected with adenoviruses, including streptozotocin (Sigma Chemical Company, St. Louis, Missouri) diabetic rats with AdCMVβgal and streptozotocin diabetic rats with AdCMVeNOS. At 1 to 2 days after transfection these study animals underwent cavernous nerve stimulation to assess erectile function and their responses were compared with those of age matched control rats. In control and transfected streptozotocin diabetic rats eNOS and neuronal NOS (nNOS) were examined by Western blot analysis. Constitutive and inducible NOS activities were evaluated in the presence and absence of calcium by L-arginine to L-citrulline conversion and nitrate plus nitrite levels were measured. In control and streptozotocin diabetic penes β-galactosidase activity and localization were determined. Results: After transfection with AdCMVβgal β-galactosidase was localized to the endothelium and smooth muscle cells of the streptozotocin diabetic rat penis. Streptozotocin diabetic rats had a significant decrease in erectile function, as determined by peak and total intracavernous pressure (area under the curve) after cavernous nerve stimulation compared with control rats. Streptozotocin diabetic rats transfected with AdCMVeNOS had peak intracavernous pressure and area under the curve similar to those in control animals. This change in erectile function was a result of eNOS over expression with an increase in eNOS protein expression and constitutive NOS activity as well as an increase in nitric oxide biosynthesis, as reflected by an increase in cavernous nitrate plus nitrite formation. There was no change in nNOS protein expression or calcium independent conversion of NOS (inducible NOS activity). Conclusions: Adenoviral gene transfer of eNOS significantly increased peak and total intracavernous pressure to cavernous nerve stimulation in streptozotocin diabetic rats to a value similar to the response observed in control rats. Our results suggest that eNOS contributes significantly to the physiology of penile erection. These data demonstrate that in vivo adenoviral gene transfer of eNOS can physiologically improve erectile function in the streptozotocin diabetic rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1911-1917
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene therapy
  • Gene transfer techniques
  • Nitric-oxide synthase
  • Penile erection
  • Penis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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