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Keywords:

  • eNOS Uncoupling;
  • Antioxidants;
  • Priapism

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a state of chronic vasculopathy characterized by endothelial dysfunction and increased oxidative stress, but the sources and mechanisms responsible for reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the penis are unknown.

Aims.  We evaluated whether SCD activates NADPH oxidase, induces endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) uncoupling, and decreases antioxidants in the SCD mouse penis. We further tested the hypothesis that targeting NADPH oxidase decreases oxidative stress in the SCD mouse penis.

Methods.  SCD transgenic (sickle) mice were used as an animal model of SCD. Hemizygous (hemi) mice served as controls. Mice received an NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin (10 mM in drinking water) or vehicle. Penes were excised at baseline for molecular studies. Markers of oxidative stress (4-hydroxy-2-nonenal [HNE]), sources of ROS (eNOS uncoupling and NADPH oxidase subunits p67phox, p47phox, and gp91phox), and enzymatic antioxidants (superoxide dismutase [SOD]1, SOD2, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase-1 [GPx1]) were measured by Western blot in penes.

Main Outcome Measures.  Sources of ROS, oxidative stress, and enzymatic antioxidants in the SCD penis.

Results.  Relative to hemi mice, SCD increased (P < 0.05) protein expression of NADPH oxidase subunits p67phox, p47phox, and gp91phox, 4-HNE-modified proteins, induced eNOS uncoupling, and reduced Gpx1 expression in the penis. Apocynin treatment of sickle mice reversed (P < 0.05) the abnormalities in protein expressions of p47phox, gp91phox (but not p67phox) and 4-HNE, but only slightly (P > 0.05) prevented eNOS uncoupling in the penis. Apocynin treatment of hemi mice did not affect any of these parameters.

Conclusion.  NADPH oxidase and eNOS uncoupling are sources of oxidative stress in the SCD penis; decreased GPx1 further contributes to oxidative stress. Inhibition of NADPH oxidase upregulation decreases oxidative stress, implying a major role for NADPH oxidase as a ROS source and a potential target for improving vascular function in the SCD mouse penis. Musicki B, Liu T, Sezen SF, and Burnett AL. Targeting NADPH oxidase decreases oxidative stress in the transgenic sickle cell mouse penis. J Sex Med 2012;9:1980–1987.