• Erectile Dysfunction;
  • Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus;
  • Inflammation;
  • Endothelial Dysfunction


Introduction.  Erectile dysfunction (ED) is highly prevalent among type 2 diabetes mellitus patients (T2DM). Although a link among systemic inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and ED is described in clinical situations mainly related with coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, evidences of this link in T2DM patients are rather limited.

Aims.  To evaluate the association between endothelial dysfunction and balance of pro-/anti-inflammatory mediators with ED presence and severity in T2DM.

Methods.  We conducted a cross-sectional study of 190 T2DM patients without symptomatic CHD, 150 out of them with ED and 40 without ED. Serum levels of E-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin (IL)-10 were measured using specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). ED presence and severity were tested by the five-item version of the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures.  Differences in circulating levels of endothelial dysfunction (ICAM-1, E-selectin) and inflammatory/anti-inflammatory (TNF-α, IL-10, TNF-α : IL-10 ratio) markers between T2DM patients with and without ED, and assessment of biomarkers ED predictive value while adjusting for other known ED risk factors.

Results.  Patients with ED were older and had longer duration of diabetes than patients without ED. E-selectin serum levels were significantly increased, while IL-10 were lower in patients with ED; because TNF-α levels tend to be higher, TNF-α : IL-10 ratio was more elevated in ED patients. No significant differences of ICAM-1 levels were observed between study groups. Endothelial activation markers and TNF-α, as well as diabetes duration, were negatively correlated with erectile function. On multivariate analysis including age, duration of diabetes, insulin treatment, hypertension, insulin resistance, fair-to-poor glycemic control, and metabolic syndrome, increments in E-selectin levels and TNF-α : IL-10 ratio predicted independently ED presence, while IL-10 increases were associated with lower risk of ED in T2DM patients.

Conclusions.  ED in T2DM patients without symptomatic CHD is associated with systemic endothelial dysfunction and a predominant, imbalanced low-grade inflammatory response. Araña Rosaínz MDJ, Ojeda Ojeda M, Rodriguez Acosta J, Castelo Elías-Calles L, Orlandi González N, Torres Herrera O, García Álvarez CT, Maciquez Rodríguez E, Estevez Báez M, Álvarez Seijas E, and Fragas Valdés R. Imbalanced low-grade inflammation and endothelial activation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med 2011;8:2017–2030.