Presence of Phosphodiesterase Type 5 in the Spinal Cord and its Involvement in Bladder Outflow Obstruction Related Bladder Overactivity

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Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors were recently introduced as a new treatment option for men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Safety and clinical effectiveness are well documented but the mode of action is still unclear. We determined and compared the expression of phosphodiesterase type 5 in the spinal cord of normal (sham operated) rats and rats with partial urethral obstruction induced bladder overactivity. We also assessed the urodynamic effects of intravenously and intrathecally administered sildenafil in the rats to determine whether phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors exert effects on the sacral spinal cord.

Materials and Methods:

A total of 65 male Sprague-Dawley® rats were used for molecular/morphological and functional experiments. Bladder overactivity was induced via surgical partial urethral obstruction in 39 of 65 rats. Spinal phosphodiesterase type 5 expression was assessed by histology and polymerase chain reaction. The effects of sildenafil administered intravenously or intrathecally were studied urodynamically.


Phosphodiesterase type 5 was expressed in various regions of the lumbosacral spinal cord, including the sacral regions of micturition control. Expression was similar in normal rats and rats with partial urethral obstruction/bladder overactivity. In normal rats intravenous and intrathecal sildenafil had no urodynamic effect. When administered intravenously and intrathecally to rats with partial urethral obstruction/bladder overactivity, sildenafil decreased micturition frequency and bladder pressure. Doses tested intrathecally had no effect when given intravenously.


Phosphodiesterase type 5 is expressed in the rat spinal cord. Intravenous sildenafil may exert part of its urodynamic effect in rats with partial urethral obstruction/bladder overactivity via an effect on the sacral spinal cord.

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