Effects of Endopeptidase Inhibition on the Contraction–Relaxation Response of Isolated Human Vaginal Tissue


Corresponding Author: Stefan Ückert, PhD, Division of Surgery, Department of Urology and Urological Oncology, Hannover Medical School, 30623 Hannover, Germany. Tel: +49 511 5 32 34 37; Fax: +49 511 5 32 34 81; E-mail: sue_de_99@yahoo.de



Vasoactive peptides, such as bradykinin, C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), and endothelin 1 (ET-1), are assumed to be involved in the control of female genital vascular and nonvascular smooth muscle. Tissue levels of said peptides are controlled by the activity of endopeptidase enzymes. Theoretically, in female genital tissues, inhibiting the degradation of bradykinin, CNP, and VIP, or the conversion of Big ET-1 into ET-1 should result in an enhancement in smooth muscle relaxation and, thus, an improvement in sexual response.


Elucidate the effects of the endopeptidase inhibitor KC 12615 on the contraction/relaxation response of isolated human vaginal smooth muscle to Big ET-1, bradykinin, CNP, or VIP.


Tissue bath experiments were carried out to ascertain the responses of human vaginal tissue challenged by ET-1 (0.1 μM) to increasing concentrations of bradykinin, CNP, and VIP (0.01 μM, 0.1 μM, and 1 μM, respectively). The effects were also evaluated following preexposure to KC 12615 (10 μM, for 20 minutes).

Main Outcome Measures.

Measure the effects of KC 12615 on the relaxation of isolated human vaginal smooth muscle brought about by bradykinin, CNP, or VIP and the contraction mediated by Big ET-1.


The tension induced by ET-1 was reversed by bradykinin, CNP, or VIP (−25 ± 6.6%, −13.3 ± 2.2%, and −17.6 ± 10%, respectively). Big ET-1 induced contraction of the vaginal tissue. Preexposure of the tissue to KC 12615 increased the relaxation exerted by bradykinin, CNP, or VIP (to −39.2 ± 5.8%, −40.7 ± 7.3%, and −44.6 ± 19%, respectively). The contraction induced by Big ET-1 was attenuated in the presence of KC 12615 (to approximately 25% of the initial response).


Inhibition of endopeptidase activity can antagonize the contraction of human vaginal tissue induced by Big ET-1 and increase the relaxation induced by vasoactive endogenous peptides.