Topically applied no-releasing nanoparticles can increase intracorporal pressure and elicit spontaneous erections in a rat model of radical prostatectomy

Moses Tar, Pedro Cabrales, Mahantesh Navati, Brandon Adler, Parimala Nacharaju, Adam J. Friedman, Joel Friedman, Kelvin P. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Introduction: Patients undergoing radical prostatectomy (RP) suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) refractory to phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors, which act downstream of cavernous nerve (CN)-mediated release of nitric oxide (NO). Direct delivery of NO to the penis could potentially circumvent this limitation. Aim: This study aimed to determine if topically applied NO-releasing nanoparticles (NO-NPs) could elicit erections in a rat model of RP through increased blood flow. Methods: Twenty-six Sprague Dawley rats underwent bilateral transection of the CN. One week later, NO-NPs were applied topically to the penile shaft in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) gel (10 animals) or coconut oil (6 animals). Control animals were treated with empty NPs. Erectile function was determined through the intracorporal pressure/blood pressure ratio (ICP/BP). The effect of the NO-NPs on blood flow was determined using a hamster dorsal window chamber. Main Outcome Measures: Animals were investigated for spontaneous erections, onset and duration of erectile response, and basal ICP/BP ratio. Microcirculatory blood flow was determined through measurements of arteriolar and venular diameter and red blood cell velocity. Results: Eight of 10 animals treated with NO-NPs suspended in DMSO gel had significant increases in basal ICP/BP, and 6 out of these 10 animals demonstrated spontaneous erections of approximately 1 minute in duration. Time to onset of spontaneous erections ranged from 5 to 37 minutes, and they occurred for at least 45 minutes. Similar results were observed with NO-NPs applied in coconut oil. No erectile response was observed in control animal models treated with empty NPs. The hamster dorsal window chamber experiment demonstrated that NO-NPs applied as a suspension in coconut oil caused a significant increase in the microcirculatory blood flow, sustained over 90 minutes. Conclusions: Topically applied NO-NPs induced spontaneous erections and increased basal ICP in an animal model of RP. These effects are most likely due to increased microcirculatory blood flow. These characteristics suggest that NO-NPs would be useful in penile rehabilitation of patients following.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2903-2914
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Cavernous nerve
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Microcirculation
  • Nanoparticle
  • Nitric oxide
  • Radical prostatectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology


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