Age-Related Morphological Changes in Smooth Muscle and Collagen Content in Human Corpus Cavernosum


Ana Milena Herrera, MD, PhD, Basic Sciences, University CES, Transv. Superior calle 10 #22-04, Medellin, Antioquia 0000, Colombia. Tel: (574) 4440555 ext 327; Fax: (574) 2682876; E-mail:;


Introduction.  Aging process has been related to erectile dysfunction (ED) possibly due to morphological changes in corpus cavernosum among many other causes.

Aim.  To evaluate smooth muscle and collagen content in human corpus cavernosum and to correlate it to age.

Methods.  Cadaveric human cavernosal tissue was collected during the period of 1 year. Morphological analysis of a whole corpus cavernosum was performed in tissue sections stained with Masson's trichromic method to differentiate smooth muscle (red) from collagen (blue) content.

Main Outcome Measures.  Analysis was performed with specialized micrographs image analysis software. Pearson's correlation test was used to establish correlation between corpus cavernosum morphology (smooth muscle and collagen content) and age.

Results.  A total sample of 89 tissues from different male cadavers were analyzed. The average age of the sample was 49.2 ± 19.1 years, with a range between 14 and 90 years. There was a statistically significant inverse correlation between age and the percentage of smooth muscle content (P = 0.012), direct correlation between age and percentage of collagen content (P = 0.019), and inverse correlation between age and the ratio of smooth muscle : collagen content (P = 0.007).

Conclusions.  Age-related morphological changes in terms of smooth muscle and collagen content are observed in human corpus cavernosum as a possible contributing factor to the development of ED. Ferrer JE, Velez JD, and Herrera AM. Age-related morphological changes in smooth muscle and collagen content in human corpus cavernosum. J Sex Med 2010;7:2723–2728.