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RhoA/Rho-Kinase as a Therapeutic Target for the Male Urogenital Tract


Wayne J.G. Hellstrom, MD, FACS, Section of Andrology, Tulane University, Health Sciences Center, Department of Urology, 1430 Tulane Avenue, SL-42, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA. Tel: (504) 988-5372; Fax: (504) 988 5059; E-mail:


Introduction.  Rho-kinase (ROCK) is a serine/threonine kinase and is one of the major downstream effectors of the small guanosine triphosphatase Rho. In the past few years, evidence has been accumulating to suggest that the RhoA/ROCK system may play an important role in the pathogenesis of a number of cardiovascular and urogenital disorders.

Aim.  The aim of this study is to review the literature pertaining to the role of the RhoA/ROCK system in male urogenital function.

Methods.  Comprehensive literature review was performed using PubMed.

Main Outcome Measures.  Inhibitors of ROCK may have potential therapeutic applications, as derived from preclinical and a few clinical studies.

Results.  Published reports suggest that elevated RhoA/Rho-kinase signaling plays a role in the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia, erectile dysfunction, kidney failure, ejaculation disorders, prostate and bladder cancer initiation, and eventual metastasis.

Conclusions.  This review focuses on our current understanding of the role of the RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway in the regulation of the male urogenital system. Rho-kinase inhibitors may evolve into an important pharmacologic option in the future treatment of urogenital system disorders. Gur S, Kadowitz PJ, and Hellstrom WJG. RhoA/Rho-kinase as a therapeutic target for the male urogenital tract. J Sex Med 2011;8:675–687.