Altered expression of mitofusin 2 in penile tissues of diabetic rats

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Diabetic erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common complication in diabetes mellitus, and the efficacy of first-line therapies is not satisfactory. Recent studies revealed that corporal apoptosis was responsible for the nonresponsiveness of severe ED to phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. Mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) is a versatile protein, regulating mitochondrial morphology and playing an important role in apoptosis. Several studies showed that expression of Mfn2 was decreased in STZ-induced diabetic rats' kidney, myocardium and retina, which was associated with diabetic nephropathy, cardiomyopathy and retinopathy respectively. In this study, our aim was to explore the expression of Mfn2 and apoptosis in diabetic rats' penes. We found that erectile function (ICP/MAP) elicited by electrical stimulation of cavernous nerve was markedly impaired in diabetic rats compared with the normal rats. The mRNA and protein levels of Mfn2 were found to be significantly reduced in diabetic rats' penile tissues. Compared with normal rats, the content of smooth muscle and B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2)/Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax) ratio were dramatically decreased, and penile apoptotic index and expression of activated-caspase-3 were dramatically increased in diabetic rats. This data indicated that repression of Mfn2 in diabetic rats' penes might be associated with excessive apoptosis in diabetes-induced severe ED.

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