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Expression of Aquaporin Proteins in Vagina of Diabetes Mellitus Rats


Rui Jiang, PhD, MD, Department of Urology, Affiliated Hospital, Luzhou Medical College, Taiping Road, Luzhou, Sichuan 646000, China. Tel: 86830-3162521; Fax: 86830 2392753; E-mail:


Introduction.  Aquaporins (AQPs) are membrane proteins that facilitate water movement across biological membranes. Vaginal lubrication may be mediated by blood flow and other potential mechanisms related to transudation of fluid. The most common female sexual dysfunction in diabetes is inadequate vaginal lubrication.

Aim.  To investigate the expression of AQP1–3 in vaginal tissue of diabetes mellitus rats.

Methods.  Female Sprague-Dawley rats (N = 20) were randomly divided into group A (12-week-old nondiabetic control, N = 5), group B (16-week-old nondiabetes control, N = 5), group C (12-week-old diabetes mellitus rats, N = 5), and group D (16-week-old diabetes mellitus rats, N = 5). Vaginal fluid was measured by fluid weight absorbed by cotton swabs after pelvic nerve electrostimulation and anterior vaginal tissue was dissected for determining the expression of AQP1–3 by immunohistochemical study and Western blot.

Main Outcome Measures.  The expression of AQP1–3 was determined in the vagina of diabetes mellitus rats by Western blot.

Results.  There are no significant differences in serum estradiol concentrations of rats among these groups (P > 0.05). Vaginal fluid was significantly lower in group C (2.7 ± 0.67 mg) and group D (2.5 ± 1.03 mg) than in group A (5.74 ± 1.23 mg) and group B (5.5 ± 1.08 mg) (P < 0.05), respectively. The protein expressions of AQP1–3 were significantly lower in group C (43.40 ± 4.83, 60.60 ± 12.80, and 59.60 ± 6.95) and group D (20.81 ± 2.86, 47.80 ± 11.43, and 54.20 ± 5.26) than in group A (116.62 ± 3.21, 110.81 ± 8.044, and 108.80 ± 4.97) and group B (122.12 ± 14.54, 111.21 ± 15.07, and 106.40 ± 4.16) (P < 0.05), respectively.

Conclusions.  Decreased vaginal fluid in diabetes mellitus rats after electrostimulation may be partly due to estrogen-independent decreases of AQP1–3 in vaginal tissue. Pei L, Jiang J, Jiang R, Ouyang F, Yang H, Cheng Y, and Fan Z. Expression of aquaporin proteins in vagina of diabetes mellitus rats. J Sex Med **;**:**–**.