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J Sex Med. 2008 Jan;5(1):237-40. Epub 2007 Oct 25.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency: an etiology for idiopathic priapism?

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Department of Urology, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Efforts to identify the health risk associations for priapism may reveal pathophysiologic mechanisms for the disorder and suggest a scientifically rational approach for correcting it.


We describe a clinical presentation of idiopathic recurrent priapism in a patient with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency and consider a possible nitric oxide (NO)-dependent mechanistic basis from which the medical condition causes priapism.


The case report profiled a 35-year-old African-American man with G6PD deficiency who presented with a rapid progression of recurrent priapism episodes. He was outwardly healthy and did not have sickle cell disease or trait by hematologic screening. His management featured use of a long-term, continuous phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor therapeutic regimen.


Clinical history data and response to PDE5 inhibitor therapy.


After a 3-month duration of PDE5 inhibitor therapy, priapism recurrences were sufficiently resolved and the patient discontinued therapy. At 18-month clinical follow-up, he experienced only minor priapism recurrences and retention of full erectile ability.


G6PD deficiency offers an explanation for idiopathic priapism. The medical condition generates a pathophysiologic milieu consistent with aberrant NO signaling and heightened oxidative stress in the penis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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