Amelioration of Cavernosal Fibrosis and Erectile Function by Lysyl Oxidase Inhibition in a Rat Model of Cavernous Nerve Injury

Zhi-Hua Wan, Guo-Hao Li, Yong-Lian Guo, Wen-Zhou Li, Lin Chen, Yuan-Jie Zhang
Journal of Sexual Medicine 2018, 15 (3): 304-313

BACKGROUND: Cavernous nerve injury (CNI) causes fibrosis and loss of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in the corpus cavernosum and leads to erectile dysfunction, and lysyl oxidase (LOX) activation has been found to play an important role in fibrotic diseases.

AIM: To evaluate the role of LOX in penile fibrosis after bilateral CNI (BCNI).

METHODS: Rats underwent BCNI or a sham operation and were treated with vehicle or β-aminopropionitrile, a specific LOX activity inhibitor. 30 days after BCNI, rats were tested for erectile function before penile tissue harvest. LOX and extracellular matrix component expression levels in the corpus cavernosum, including matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), fibronectin (FN), collagen (COL) I, and COL IV, were evaluated by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blot. Corporal fibrosis was evaluated by Masson trichrome staining. Localization of LOX and SMC content in the corpus cavernosum were assessed by immunohistochemistry.

OUTCOMES: Ratio of intracavernous pressure to mean arterial blood pressure; LOX, MMPs, TIMPs, COL I, COL IV, and FN expression; penile fibrosis; penile SMC content.

RESULTS: After BCNI, there was an increase in penile LOX expression and activity, increased penile fibrosis, decreased SMC content, and impaired erectile function. TIMP1, TIMP2, COL I, COL IV, and FN expression was markedly upregulated, whereas the enzyme activity of MMPs was decreased after BCNI. β-Aminopropionitrile treatment, at least in part, prevented a decrease in the ratio of intracavernous pressure to mean arterial blood pressure, decreased penile expression of TIMP1, TIMP2, COL I, COL IV, and FN, increased MMP activity, prevented corporal fibrosis, and preserved SMC content.

CLINICAL TRANSLATION: LOX over-activation contributes to penile fibrosis and LOX inhibition could be a promising strategy in preventing the progression of CNI-induced erectile dysfunction.

STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS: This is the 1st study to demonstrate the role of LOX activation in penile fibrosis. However, the exact mechanism of how LOX influences extracellular matrix protein synthesis and SMC content preservation awaits further investigation.

CONCLUSION: CNI induced LOX over-activation in cavernous tissue, and inhibition of LOX preserved penile morphology and improved erectile function in a rat model of BCNI. Wan Z-H, Li G-H, Guo Y-L, et al. Amelioration of Cavernosal Fibrosis and Erectile Function by Lysyl Oxidase Inhibition in a Rat Model of Cavernous Nerve Injury. J Sex Med 2018;15:304-313.

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