• Bladder Hypoxia;
  • PDE5 Inhibitors;
  • Bladder Overactivity;
  • SHR;
  • Bladder Smooth Muscle Cells


Introduction.  In human bladder, phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) is present not only in the muscular wall but also in the vascular beds, suggesting a role for PDE5 inhibitors in favoring bladder blood flow and tissue oxygenation.

Aim.  To investigate whether acute administration of vardenafil could affect bladder oxygenation in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), an animal model of naturally occurring overactive bladder.

Main Outcome Measures.  The effect of vardenafil on hypoxia-induced alterations was studied in vivo in SHR by acute dosing (10 mg/kg, 90 minutes before sacrifice) and in vitro in human bladder smooth muscle cells (hBCs).

Methods.  Bladder oxygenation was detected using the hypoxyprobe immunostaining. The expression of some hypoxia markers (vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF] and endothelin-1 type B [ETB] receptor) was also evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. Gene expression in hBC was quantified by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.

Results.  Rat bladder PDE5 immunopositivity was detected in the muscular wall and in the endothelial and smooth muscle cells of blood vessels. In SHR bladder, a significant increase of hypoxic cells, VEGF, and ETB expression was observed when compared with their normotensive counterpart Wistar Kyoto rats (WKY). Vardenafil treatment dramatically decreased hypoxyprobe staining, as well as VEGF and ETB expression in SHR bladder up to WKY level. Accordingly, in SHR bladder, vardenafil administration significantly blunted relaxation induced by the selective ETB agonist IRL-1620. In hBCs, experimental hypoxia significantly induced gene expression of hypoxia markers (carbonic anhydrase IX and VEGF), which was not changed by simultaneous treatment with vardenafil. Conversely, the hypoxia-related induction of smooth muscle-specific genes (αSMA, SM22α, and desmin) was significantly reduced by vardenafil.

Conclusions.  SHR showed bladder hypoxia which was significantly reduced by acute vardenafil treatment. Thus, besides relaxing muscular wall, PDE5 inhibition may positively affect urinary vesicle blood perfusion. Morelli A, Filippi S, Comeglio P, Sarchielli E, Chavalmane AK, Vignozzi L, Fibbi B, Silvestrini E, Sandner P, Gacci M, Carini M, Vannelli GB, and Maggi M. Acute vardenafil administration improves bladder oxygenation in spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Sex Med 2010;7:107–120.