Nitric oxide (NO) is a cytotoxic agent of macrophages, a messenger molecule of neurons, and a vasodilator produced by endothelial cells. NO synthase, the synthetic enzyme for NO, was localized to rat penile neurons innervating the corpora cavernosa and to neuronal plexuses in the adventitial layer of penile arteries. Small doses of NO synthase inhibitors abolished electrophysiologically induced penile erections. These results establish NO as a physiologic mediator of erectile function.
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