Myostatin, a profibrotic factor and the main inhibitor of striated muscle mass, is present in the penile and vascular smooth muscle
Myostatin is present in striated myofibers but, except for myometrial cells, has not been reported within smooth muscle cells (SMC). We investigated in the rat whether myostatin is present in SMC within the penis and the vascular wall and, if so, whether it is transcriptionally expressed and associated with the loss of corporal SMC occurring in certain forms of erectile dysfunction (ED). Myostatin protein was detected by immunohistochemistry/fluorescence and western blots in the perineal striated muscles, and also in the SMC of the penile corpora, arteries and veins, and aorta. Myostatin was found in corporal SMC cultures, and its transcriptional expression (and its receptor) was shown there by DNA microarrays. Myostatin protein was measured by western blots in the penile shaft of rats subjected to bilateral cavernosal nerve resection (BCNR), that were left untreated, or treated (45 days) with muscle-derived stem cells (MDSC), or concurrent daily low-dose sildenafil. Myostatin was not increased by BCNR (compared with sham operated animals), but over expressed after treatment with MDSC. This was reduced by concurrent sildenafil. The presence of myostatin in corporal and vascular SMC, and its overexpression in the corpora by MDSC therapy, may have relevance for the stem cell treatment of corporal fibrosis and ED.