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Eur Urol. 2007 Jul;52(1):54-70. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Testosterone and erectile function: from basic research to a new clinical paradigm for managing men with androgen insufficiency and erectile dysfunction.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.



Androgens are essential for the development and growth of the penis, and they regulate erectile physiology by multiple mechanisms. Our goal is to provide a concise overview of the basic research and how this knowledge can be translated into a new clinical paradigm for patient management. In addition, this new paradigm may serve as a basis for stimulating constructive debate regarding the use of testosterone in men, and to promote new, innovative basic and clinical research to further understand the underlying mechanisms of androgen action in restoring erectile physiology.


A literature review was performed utilizing the US National Library of Medicine's PubMed database.


On the basis of evidence derived from laboratory animal studies and clinical data, we postulate that androgen insufficiency disrupts cellular-signaling pathways and produces pathologic alterations in penile tissues, leading to erectile dysfunction. In this review, we discuss androgen-dependent cellular, molecular, and physiologic mechanisms modulating erectile function in the animal model, and the implication of this knowledge in testosterone use in the clinical setting to treat erectile dysfunction. The new clinical paradigm incorporates many of the consensed points of view discussed in traditional consensed algorithms exclusively designed for men with androgen insufficiency. There are, however, novel and innovative differences with this new clinical paradigm. This paradigm represents a fresh effort to provide mandatory and optional management strategies for men with both androgen insufficiency and erectile dysfunction.


The new clinical paradigm is evidence-based and represents one of the first attempts to address a logical management plan for men with concomitant hormonal and sexual health concerns.

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