• Impotence;
  • nitric oxide synthase;
  • denervation;
  • erectile dysfunction


To investigate changes in histology and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity in cavernosal tissues from rats with neurogenic erectile dysfunction induced experimentally.

Materials and methods

Twenty-four adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided equally into three groups and underwent a sham operation (control, group 1), unilateral (group 2) or bilateral (group 3) cavernosal nerve resection. Three months later they were killed and the cavernosal tissues analysed histologically by light and transmission electron microscopy, with NOS activity detected using an NADPH-diaphorase staining technique.


On light and electron microscopy, while penile nerves and cavernosal smooth muscle cells had a normal morphological appearance in the eight control rats, there were degenerative changes of the myelinated penile nerves and axonal fibrosis in groups 2 and 3. However, these changes were not significant. Using NADPH-diaphorase staining, NOS activity was detected in all three groups in endothelial cells and cavernosal structures. However, the staining was more intense in endothelial cells and cavernosal muscles of rats in group 2 than in the other groups.


NOS activity was increased in the cavernosal tissue after cavernosal denervation, but the pharmacological action of nitric oxide may be impaired.