Introduction. Immunophilin ligands function by binding to receptor proteins such as FK506 binding proteins (FKBPs). FKBPs are studied for their roles in neuroprotection.
Aim. Compare the effect of FK506 (FK) and rapamycin (RAP) on erectile function (EF) recovery and FKBP expressions in penis and major pelvic ganglion (MPG) after cavernous nerve (CN) injury.
Methods. Adult male rats were divided into four groups: sham surgery (CN exposure only) + vehicle; bilateral CN injury (BCNI; bilateral crush, 3 minutes with hemostat clamp) + vehicle; BCNI + FK (5 mg/kg/day, 5 days, sc); and BCNI + RAP (2 mg/kg/day, 5 days, sc). At both 24 hours (Day 1) or 1 week (Day 7) after BCNI, EF was assessed by intracavernosal pressure measurement and FKBPs 12, 38, 52, and 65 expressions were evaluated by Western blot analysis in collected penises and MPGs.
Main Outcome Measures. EF and change in protein expressions of FKBPs in the rat penis and MPG after BCNI with and without immunophilin ligand treatment.
Results. Both FK- and RAP-treated rats had preserved EF compared with vehicle-treated rats after BCNI. FKBPs changed variably following injury and treatment. In particular, in the penis at Day 1, FKBP 38 expression was decreased after BCNI and both FK and RAP attenuated this decrease. In MPG at Day 1, FKBP 38 expression was also decreased after BCNI and FK attenuated the decrease, while at Day 7, FKBP 38 expression was still decreased and RAP attenuated the decrease. Also, in the penis at Day 1, FKBP 65 expression decreased after BCNI and FK attenuated the decrease. In the MPG, FKBP 65 expression increased at both Days 1 and 7 with FK treatment.
Conclusions. Improved EF after BCNI, as shown with RAP, further suggests a role of immunophilin ligands as a protective therapy of CN injury associated erectile dysfunction. Our findings also suggest that select FKBPs, such as FKBP 38 and FKBP 65, may mediate these effects. Lagoda G, Sezen SF, and Burnett AL. FK506 and rapamycin neuroprotect erection and involve different immunophilins in a rat model of cavernous nerve injury. J Sex Med 2009;6:1914–1923.