Detection of low-molecular-mass plasma peptides in the cavernous and systemic blood of healthy men during penile flaccidity and rigidity—an experimental approach using the novel differential peptide display technology

Harald Tammen, Rüdiger Hess, Stefan Uckert, Armin J Becker, Christian G Stief, Peter Schulz Knappe, Michael Schrader, Udo Jonas
Urology 2002, 59 (5): 784-9

OBJECTIVES: To use Differential Peptide Display (DPD) technology to evaluate the patterns of low-molecular-mass peptides and small proteins in the systemic and cavernous blood taken from healthy adult male volunteers during the penile stages of flaccidity and rigidity. Results from basic research implicate a role of various peptides in the control of mammalian penile erectile tissue. Nevertheless, it is not yet known which particular peptides are essential in the regulation of penile flaccidity, tumescence, rigidity, and detumescence.

METHODS: Five healthy male subjects were exposed to visual and tactile erotic stimuli to elicit penile erection. Whole blood was simultaneously aspirated from the corpus cavernosum and cubital vein during penile flaccidity and rigidity. Plasma aliquots were subjected to DPD analysis by means of matrix-assisted-laser-desorption-ionization mass mapping and electrospray-ionization quadrupole--time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

RESULTS: High-resolution two-dimensional peptide mass mapping revealed differences in the systemic and cavernous plasma samples related to penile flaccidity and rigidity. Distinct signals were recognized in the cavernous but not in the systemic plasma obtained during flaccidity. These signals were not registered in the plasma samples obtained from the corpus cavernosum during rigid erection. Although one signal was identified as the blood coagulation-activating peptide XIIIa, the remaining two signals could not be related to any known peptide. These signals may represent unknown local peptidergic factors that might be involved in the regulation of penile flaccidity.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that DPD is a feasible method for detecting differences in the cavernous and systemic blood in relation to the different functional conditions of the penile erectile tissue. Additional studies using DPD should include the analysis of blood samples taken from the cavernous meshwork of healthy subjects during penile tumescence and detumescence to establish DPD as a valuable tool in contemporary corpus cavernosum basic research.

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