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Erectile Dysfunction and Altered Contribution of KCa1.1 and KCa2.3 Channels in the Penile Tissue of Type-2 Diabetic db/db Mice

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Background
Activation of endothelial small conductance calcium-activated K+ channels (KCa2.3) and intermediate conductance calcium-activated K+ channels (KCa3.1) leads to vascular relaxation. We found endothelial KCa2.3 down-regulation in the corpus cavernosum diminishes erectile function.

Aim
We hypothesized that in type-2 diabetic mice, the function of KCa2.3 and KCa1.1 channels is impaired in erectile tissue.

Methods
Erectile function was measured, and corpus cavernosum strips were mounted for functional studies and processed for qPCR and immunoblotting.

Outcomes
Effects of type 2 diabetes on erectile function, expression and function of calcium-activated potassium channels.

Results
In anesthetized diabetic db/db mice, erectile function was markedly decreased compared to non-diabetic heterozygous db/+ mice, and the impairment was even more pronounced compared to normal C57BL/6 mice. qPCR revealed KCa2.3 and KCa1.1α channel expressions were upregulated in corpus cavernosum from db/db mice. Immunoblotting showed down-regulation of KCa2.3 channels in the corpus cavernosum from db/db mice. Acetylcholine relaxations were impaired while relaxations induced by the nitric oxide, donor SNP were unaltered in corpus cavernosum from db/db compared to C57BL/6 and db/+ mice. Apamin, a blocker of KCa2 channels, inhibited acetylcholine relaxation in corpus cavernosum from all experimental groups. In the presence of apamin, acetylcholine relaxation was markedly decreased in corpus cavernosum from db/db vs C57BL/6 and db/+ mice. An opener of KCa2 and KCa3.1 channels, NS309, potentiated acetylcholine relaxations in corpus cavernosum from db/+ and db/db mice. Iberiotoxin, a blocker of KCa1.1 channels, inhibited acetylcholine relaxation in corpus cavernosum from db/+ mice, while there was no effect in tissue from db/db mice.

Clinical Translation
Erectile function in diabetic db/db mice was severely affected compared to heterozygous and control mice, findings suggesting the non-diabetic db/+ and diabetic db/db mice for translational purpose can be used for drug testing on, respectively, moderate and severe erectile dysfunction. The altered expressions and impaired acetylcholine relaxation in the presence of apamin compared to C57BL/6 mice may suggest decreased KCa1.1 channel function may underpin impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation and erectile dysfunction in diabetic db/db mice.

Strengths & Limitations
The present study provides a mouse model for type 2 diabetes to test moderate and severe erectile dysfunction drugs. Decreased KCa1.1 channel function contributes to erectile dysfunction, and it is a limitation that it is not supported by electrophysiological measurements.

Conclusion
Our results suggest that the contribution of iberiotoxin-sensitive KCa1.1 channels to relaxation is reduced in the corpus cavernosum, while apamin-sensitive KCa2.3 channels appear upregulated. The impaired KCa1.1 channel function may contribute to the impaired erectile function in diabetic db/db mice
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Volume19
Issue5
Pages (from-to)697-710
Number of pages14
ISSN1743-6095
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

    Research areas

  • Acetylcholine, Diabetes, Erectile function, Potassium channels, Mice

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