Laboratory Forum: The Use of Gene Transfer Technology to Study the Pathophysiology of Erectile Dysfunction


Trinity J. Bivalacqua, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, 600 N. Wolfe Ave., Marburg 143, Baltimore, MD 21287. Tel: 410-955-0352; Fax: 410-614-3695; E-mail:


Introduction.  The past 25 years of basic science research on erectile physiology has been devoted to investigating the pathogenesis of erectile dysfunction. Research has led to a better understanding of the biochemical factors and intracellular mechanisms responsible for corporal smooth muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as the influence of endothelial-derived relaxing factors.

Aim.  In this essay, we propose the use of gene transfer technology to study mechanisms of disease involved in penile vascular dysfunction.

Methods.  The development of methods to deliver therapeutic genes to the penis has kindled a keen interest in treating ED with gene- and cell-based therapies.

Results.  Gene therapy has delineated putative mechanisms of disease in animal models of erectile dysfunction.

Conclusion.  Investigation of animal models using gene therapy may ultimately lead to mechanism-based therapies for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Bivalacqua TJ, and Strong TD. The use of gene transfer technology to study the pathophysiology of erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med 2008;5:268–275.