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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008 Sep 15;178(6):644-50. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200801-190OC. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Erectile dysfunction in a murine model of sleep apnea.

Author information

1
Kosair Children's Hospital Research Institute, University of Louisville, Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is frequent in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), one of the hallmarks of OSAS, could mediate ED.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine whether intermittent hypoxia during sleep affects erectile dysfunction in mice.

METHODS:

Three groups of C57BL/6 mice were exposed to CIH for 5 or 24 weeks. Sexual function was evaluated by in vivo telemetry of corpus spongiosum pressure. Spontaneous erections, sexual activity during mating, and noncontact tests were assessed after 5 weeks of CIH and after treatment with tadalafil. Plasma testosterone was measured after 8 and 24 weeks of CIH, and the expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms was examined in penile tissue.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:

Noncontact, spontaneous, and contact sexual activity in the mice was suppressed after CIH. Spontaneous erection counts decreased after the first week of CIH by 55% (P < 0.001) and remained unchanged thereafter. Recovery of erectile activity during normoxia for 6 weeks was incomplete. Compared with control mice, latencies for mounts and intromissions increased by 60- and 40-fold, respectively (P < 0.001), and the sexual activity index decreased sixfold. Tadalafil treatment significantly attenuated these effects. Immunoblot analyses of NOS proteins in the erectile tissue showed decreased expression of endothelial NOS after CIH (P < 0.01), with no changes in plasma testosterone levels after 8 and 24 weeks of CIH.

CONCLUSIONS:

CIH during sleep is associated with decreased libido in mice. The decreased expression of endothelial NOS protein in erectile tissue and the favorable response to tadalafil suggest that altered nitric oxide mechanisms underlie CIH-mediated ED. No changes in testosterone emerge after intermittent hypoxia.

PMID:
18535258
PMCID:
PMC2542437
DOI:
10.1164/rccm.200801-190OC
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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