Introduction. Erectile dysfunction (ED) and cardiovascular diseases share the same risk factors. Although the use of hypercholesterolemic rabbit models has proven to be useful to illustrate the link between ED and hypercholesterolemia, the cost of daily maintenance of the animals and necessity for important amounts of drug have limited their use.
Aim. We aimed to develop a new model of atherosclerosis-associated ED in a well-known experimental model of atherosclerosis, the apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE KO) mouse.
Methods. Erectile function was evaluated by recording frequency-dependent increases in intracavernous pressure following electrical stimulation of the cavernous nerve in 26-, 32-, and 38-week-old ApoE KO mice fed a Western-type diet and age-matched C57BL6/J anesthetized mice. Atherosclerotic lesions were evaluated by planimetry in oil red O-stained aortas.
Results. We found that in contrast to C57BL6/J mice, ApoE mice displayed atherosclerotic lesions covering 22% of the aortic luminal surface at 26 weeks of age and increasing to 27% and 35% at 32 weeks and 38 weeks of age, respectively. The amplitude of erectile responses to electrical stimulation of the cavernous nerve was markedly impaired in 26-week-old ApoE KO mice as compared with age-matched C57BL6/J mice. Impairment in erectile function persisted in ApoE KO mice 32 and 38 weeks of age.
Conclusions. The ApoE KO mouse, a well-characterized model to study disorders associated with hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis in cardiovascular research, could therefore be suitable for investigation of disease-modifying effects of new therapeutic strategies aiming to target both atherosclerosis and ED. Behr-Roussel D, Darblade B, Oudot A, Compagnie S, Bernabé J, Alexandre L, and Giuliano F. Erectile dysfunction in hypercholesterolemic atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E knockout mice. J Sex Med 2006;3:596–603.