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Galanin Administration Partially Restores Erectile Function After Cavernous Nerve Injury and Mediates Endogenous Nitrergic Nerve Outgrowth In Vitro

Previously, we found that the neuropeptide galanin was strongly upregulated soon after bilateral cavernous nerve injury (BCNI) and that galanin and its receptors were expressed in nitrergic erectile innervation. Galanin has been observed to exert neuroregenerative effects in dorsal root ganglion neurons, but evidence for these effects in the major pelvic ganglion (MPG) after BCNI is lacking.

To evaluate the neurotropic effects of galanin receptor agonists and antagonists in vitro in nitrergic neurons and MPG and in vivo in rats after BCNI.

Male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent BCNI and sham surgery. Organ culture and single-cell neuron culture of the MPG were performed. Osmotic pump treatment with the galanin agonist in vivo and measurement of erectile response to electrostimulation after BCNI, immunohistochemical localization of galanin and receptors in the human neurovascular bundle, and myographic analysis of rat corpus cavernosum smooth muscle relaxation to galanin receptor agonists were investigated.

Neurite outgrowth in vitro and erectile response to electrostimulation after BCNI in vivo, immunohistochemical localization of galanin and receptors, and penile muscle relaxation in vitro.

Galanin showed neurotrophic action in vitro and inhibition of endogenous galanin significantly impaired neurite outgrowth in nitrergic but not in sympathetic MPG neurons. In vivo administration of a selective galanin receptor-2 agonist, M1145, resulted in partial recovery of erectile function (EF) after BCNI. Galanin did not act as a direct vasodilator on corpus cavernosum muscle strips.

Clinical Translation
Endogenous neurotrophins such as galanin could be used as a strategy to improve EF for patients after BCNI from radical prostatectomy.

Strengths and Limitations
We evaluated the effect of galanin on nerve regeneration and EF recovery in vivo and in vitro. Limitations include the lack of washout period for the in vivo experiment and absence of differences in the expression of neuronal markers between treatment groups.

We identified galanin as a potential endogenous mechanism for nerve regeneration after BCNI, which could play a physiologic role in EF recovery after radical prostatectomy. In vivo treatment with exogenous galanin was beneficial in enhancing EF recovery after BCNI, but further research is necessary to understand the underlying mechanisms.


Emmanuel Weyne, MD, Johanna L. Hannan, PhD, Thomas Gevaert, MD, PhD, Mohammad Ayodhia Soebadi, MD, Hotaka Matsui, MD, Fabio Castiglione, MD, Koenraad van Renterghem, MD, PhD, Dirk De Ridder, MD, PhD, Frank Van der Aa, MD, PhD, Trinity J. Bivalacqua, MD, PhD, Maarten Albersen, MD, PhD
Department of Urology, KU Leuven and University Hospitals, Leuven, Belgium
The Journal of Sexual Medicine, April 2018, Volume 15, Issue 4, Pages 480–491
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.02.013

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