Losartan, an Angiotensin Type I Receptor, Restores Erectile Function by Downregulation of Cavernous Renin-Angiotensin System in Streptozocin-Induced Diabetic Rats


Yutian Dai, MD, PhD, Department of Urology, Gulou Hospital, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210008, China. Tel: +86 25 83105665; Fax: +86 25 83317016; E-mail: ytdai@hotmail.com

Run Wang, MD, FACS, Department of Urology, University of Texas Medical School at Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Tel: (713) 704-2494; Fax: (713) 704-6260; E-mail: Run.Wang@uth.tmc.edu


Introduction.  The high incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED) in diabetes highlights the need for good treatment strategies. Recent evidence indicates that blockade of the angiotensin type I receptor (AT1) may reverse ED from various diseases.

Aim.  To explore the role of cavernous renin-angiotensin system (RAS) in the pathogenesis of diabetic ED and the role of losartan in the treatment of diabetic ED.

Methods.  The AT1 blocker (ARB) losartan (30 mg/kg/d) was administered to rats with streptozocin (65 mg/kg)-induced diabetes. Erectile function, cavernous structure, and tissue gene and protein expression of RAS in the corpora cavernosa were studied.

Main Outcome Measure.  We sought to determine the changes of cavernous RAS in the condition of diabetes and after treatment with losartan.

Results.  RAS components (angiotensinogen, [pro]renin receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE], and AT1) were expressed in cavernosal tissue. In diabetic rats, RAS components were upregulated, resulting in the increased concentration of angiotensin II (Ang II) in the corpora. A positive feedback loop for Ang II formation in cavernosum was also identified, which could contribute to overactivity of cavernous RAS in diabetic rats. Administration of losartan blocked the effect of Ang II, downregulated the expression of AT1 and Ang II generated locally, and partially restored erectile function (losartan-treated group revealed an improved intracavernous pressure/mean systemic arterial pressure ratio as compared with the diabetic group (0.480 ± 0.031 vs. 0.329 ± 0.020, P < 0.01). However, losartan could not elevate the reduced smooth muscle/collagen ratio in diabetic rats.

Conclusions.  The cavernous RAS plays a role in modulating erectile function in corpora cavernosa and is involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic ED. ARB can restore diabetic ED through downregulating cavernous RAS. Yang R, Yang B, Wen Y, Fand F, Cui S, Lin G, Sun Z, Wang R, and Dai Y. Losartan, an angiotensin type I receptor blocker, restores erectile function by down-regulation of cavernous renin-angiotensin system in streptozocin-induced diabetic rats. J Sex Med 2009;6:696–707.