• Heme Oxygenase-1;
  • Priapism;
  • Rat


Introduction.  The inducible isoform of heme oxygenase (HO)-1 regulates the vascular smooth muscle tone and responds to hypoxia.

Aim.  To investigate the role of HO-1 in a low-flow priapism.

Materials and Methods.  Sixty male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into five groups of six rats each. Each group of rats was sacrificed at 0 hour (group 1, control), 4 hours (group 2), 8 hours (group 3), 12 hours (group 4), and 24 hours (group 5) after inducing an artificial veno-occlusive priapism. The changes of the expression and activity of HO-1, and the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and levels of cyclic guanosine monophosphate in the penis were examined in a low-flow priapism. In addition, the HO-1 expression level in the aortas from each group was simultaneously measured to determine whether the changes in HO-1 were systemic.

Main Outcome Measures.  The expression and activity of HO-1 was examined in artificially induced veno-occlusive priapism in rat penile tissues.

Results.  The expression of the HO-1 protein and the HO-1 enzyme activities in the penile tissues were gradually increased as time increased from 0 to 24 hours (P < 0.01). HO-1 immunoreactivities were localized in the endothelial layer of the cavernosal sinusoids. The expression of iNOS were also increased at 12 and 24 hours. The cyclic guanosine monophosphate level was also significantly increased at 24 hours (P < 0.05). However, the expression of the eNOS protein showed no statistically significant change with time, and the expression of the HO-1 protein in the aorta also showed no significant change with time.

Conclusions.  A higher induction of HO-1 with time was observed in artificially induced veno-occlusive priapism, which might play a protective role against hypoxic injury. However, this may also play an important role in the vicious circle observed in a low-flow priapism. Jin YC, Gam SC, Jung JH, Hyun JS, Chang KC, and Hyun JS. Expression and activity of heme oxygenase-1 in artificially induced low-flow priapism in rat penile tissues. J Sex Med 2008;5:1876–1882.