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Antidepressant-Induced Inhibition of Genital Vascular Responses Is Reversed by Vardenafil in Female Rabbits


Javier Angulo, PhD, Hospital Ramon y Cajal—Investigacion, Ctra. Colmenar Viejo, Km 9.100 Madrid 28034, Spain. Tel: +34-91-3368481; Fax: +34-91-3368481; E-mail:


Introduction.  Administration of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) relieves depressive symptoms but may cause sexual dysfunction in women and men.

Aim.  The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of the phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor, vardenafil, on inhibition of genital vascular responses (GVR) induced by SRI or SNRI administration in female rabbits.

Methods.  Vaginal and clitoral vasodilatory responses to pelvic nerve electrical stimulation were measured by laser Doppler flow needle probes.

Results.  GVR were significantly potentiated by vardenafil even at the low dose of 0.1 mg/kg, in clitoris and vagina (181 ± 22% and 180 ± 31% of control, in vagina and clitoris, respectively, at 8 Hz). The selective SRI, paroxetine (5 mg/kg), significantly inhibited GVR in female rabbits (54 ± 5% and 48 ± 6% of control). GVR were also significantly inhibited by the SNRIs, venlafaxine (5 mg/kg) (57 ± 3% and 32 ± 11%) and duloxetine (1 mg/kg) (40 ± 7% and 28 ± 5%). Treatment with vardenafil (0.1 and 0.3 mg/kg) completely reversed the inhibition of GVR induced by paroxetine, venlafaxine, or duloxetine.

Conclusions.  Potentiation of the nitric oxide (NO) pathway by vardenafil improves vascular sexual responses in female rabbits and overcomes the inhibitory effects of acutely administered antidepressants on GVR, irrespective of the underlying pathophysiologic mechanism, i.e., disruption of the NO pathway or enhancement of α-adrenergic mechanisms. PDE5 inhibition may represent a reasonable approach to treat SRI- or SRNI-induced female sexual dysfunction, in particular, arousal disorders. Angulo J, Cuevas P, Cuevas B, Bischoff E, and Saenz de Tejada I. Antidepressant-induced inhibition of genital vascular responses is reversed by vardenafil in female rabbits. J Sex Med 2006;3:988–995.