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Korean J Urol. 2013 Nov;54(11):721-31. doi: 10.4111/kju.2013.54.11.721. Epub 2013 Nov 6.

Androgens modulate endothelial function and endothelial progenitor cells in erectile physiology.

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Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. ; Department of Urology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.


The incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED) increases with age and cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes. These risk factors are thought to contribute to endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis, thus contributing to the pathophysiology of ED. The role of the endothelium in regulating erectile physiology is well established. However, the role of androgens in modulating endothelial function and endothelial repair mechanisms subsequent to vascular injury in erectile tissue remains a subject of intensive research. The clinical and preclinical evidence discussed in this review suggests that androgens regulate endothelial function and also play an important role in the development and maturation of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which are thought to play a critical role in repair of endothelial injury in vascular beds. In this review, we discuss the data available on the effects of androgens on endothelial function and EPCs in the repair of vascular injury. Indeed, more research is needed to fully understand the molecular and cellular basis of androgen action in regulating the development, differentiation, maturation, migration, and homing of EPCs to the site of injury. A better understanding of these processes will be critical to the development of new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of vascular ED.


Endothelium; Erectile dysfunction; Nitric oxide; Testosterone; Vascular endothelial cells

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