Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a serious health concern and is an underlying cause of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in many men. In affected men, LUTS/BPH is believed to result from benign proliferation of the prostate resulting in bladder outlet obstruction. Postnatal growth of the prostate is controlled via growth factor and endocrine mechanisms. However, little attention had been given to the function of the autonomic nervous system in prostate growth and differentiation. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a prostatic mitogen that has a trophic role in autonomic sensory end organ interaction. In this study, we examine how the autonomic nervous system influences prostate growth as a function of age by quantifying NGF in the rat ventral prostate (VP) after pelvic ganglionectomy. Unilateral pelvic ganglionectomy was performed on postnatal days 30 (P30), 60 and 120 Sprague-Dawley rats in comparison to sham controls (n=39). Semiquantitative RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemical analysis for NGF were performed on denervated, intact (contralateral side) and sham control VP 7 days after surgery. Ngf RNA expression was significantly increased in the denervated and intact hyperplastic VP. Western blotting showed age-dependent increases in NGF protein at P60 in the contralateral intact VP. NGF was localized in the nerves, basal cells and columnar epithelium of the prostatic ducts. Denervation causes age-dependent increases in NGF in the VP, which is a potential mechanism by which the autonomic nervous system may regulate prostate growth and lead to BPH/LUTS.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a debilitating medical condition and current treatments are ineffective in patients with cavernous nerve (CN) injury, due to penile remodeling and apoptosis. A critical regulator of penile smooth muscle and apoptosis is the secreted protein sonic hedgehog (SHH). SHH protein is decreased in rat prostatectomy and diabetic ED models, SHH inhibition in the penis induces apoptosis and ED, and SHH treatment at the time of CN injury suppresses smooth muscle apoptosis and promotes regeneration of erectile function. Thus SHH treatment has significant translational potential as an ED therapy if similar mechanisms underlie ED development in patients. In this study we quantify SHH protein and morphological changes in corpora cavernosal tissue of control, prostatectomy and diabetic patients and hypothesize that decreased SHH protein is an underlying cause of ED development in prostatectomy and diabetic patients. Our results show significantly decreased SHH protein in prostatectomy and diabetic penis. Morphological remodelling of the penis, including significantly increased apoptotic index and decreased smooth muscle/collagen ratio, accompanies declining SHH. SHH signaling is active in human penis and is altered in a parallel manner to previous observations in the rat. These results suggest that SHH has significant potential to be developed as an ED therapy in prostatectomy and diabetic patients. The increased apoptotic index long after initial injury is suggestive of ongoing remodeling that may be clinically manipulatable.
SHH plays a significant role in peripheral nerve regeneration and has clinical potential to be used as a regenerative therapy for the CN in prostatectomy patients and in other patients with neuropathy of peripheral nerves. Efforts to regenerate the cavernous nerve (CN), which provides innervation to the penis, have been minimally successful, with little translation into improved clinical outcomes. We propose that, Sonic hedgehog (SHH), is critical to maintain CN integrity, and that SHH delivered to the CN by novel peptide amphiphile (PA) nanofibers, will promote CN regeneration, restore physiological function, and prevent penile morphology changes that result in erectile dysfunction (ED). We performed localization studies, inhibition of SHH signaling in the CN, and treatment of crushed CNs with SHH protein via linear PA gels, which are an innovative extended release method of delivery. Morphological, functional and molecular analysis revealed that SHH protein is essential to maintain CN architecture, and that SHH treatment promoted CN regeneration, suppressed penile apoptosis and caused a 58% improvement in erectile function in less than half the time reported in the literature. These studies show that SHH has substantial clinical application to regenerate the CN in prostatectomy and diabetic patients, that this methodology has broad application to regenerate any peripheral nerve that SHH is necessary for maintenance of its structure, and that this nanotechnology method of protein delivery may have wide spread application as an in vivo delivery tool in many organs.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a serious medical condition that affects 16-82% of prostate cancer patients treated by radical prostatectomy and current treatments are ineffective in 50-60% of prostatectomy patients. The reduced efficacy of treatments makes novel therapeutic approaches to treat ED essential. The secreted protein Sonic hedgehog (SHH) is a critical regulator of penile smooth muscle and apoptosis that is decreased in cavernous nerve (CN) injury and diabetic ED models. Past studies using Affi-Gel beads have shown SHH protein to be effective in suppressing apoptosis caused by CN injury.
Smooth muscle apoptosis is a major contributing factor to erectile dysfunction (ED) development in prostatectomy and diabetic patients and animal models. A critical regulator of penile smooth muscle and apoptosis is Sonic hedgehog (SHH). The SHH protein is decreased in ED models and SHH treatment of cavernous nerve (CN) injured rats prevents smooth muscle apoptosis. A close association between androgen deficiency and ED has been suggested in the literature, but few studies have examined the molecular effects on penile smooth muscle and on known signaling mechanisms that regulate morphology. Aim. Examine testosterone and SHH interaction in eugonadal adult, adolescent and juvenile rats by performing castration studies and treatment with supraphysiological testosterone.
Sonic hedgehog (SHH) is an essential regulator of smooth muscle apoptosis in the penis that has significant clinical potential as a therapy to suppress post-prostatectomy apoptosis, an underlying cause of erectile dysfunction (ED). Thus an understanding of how SHH signaling is regulated in the adult penis is essential to move the field of ED research forward and to develop new treatment strategies. We propose that hedgehog-interacting protein (HIP), which has been shown to bind SHH protein and to play a role in SHH regulation during embryogenesis of other organs, is a critical regulator of SHH signaling, penile morphology, and apoptosis induction.
Smooth muscle apoptosis in the penis is common in prostatectomy patients and animal models of erectile dysfunction (ED). A critical regulator of smooth muscle apoptosis in the penis is the secreted protein Sonic hedgehog (SHH). Since SHH protein treatment of the penis prevents cavernous nerve (CN) injury-induced apoptosis, SHH has the potential to treat post-prostatectomy apoptosis. However, little is known about how SHH signaling is regulated in the adult penis.
The cavernous nerve (CN) is commonly injured during prostatectomy. Manipulation of the nerve microenvironment is critical to improve regeneration and develop novel erectile dysfunction therapies. Sonic hedgehog (SHH) treatment promotes CN regeneration. The mechanism of how this occurs is unknown. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) facilitates return of erectile function after CN injury and it has been suggested in cortical neurons and the sciatic nerve that BDNF may be a target of SHH.
The cavernous nerve (CN) is commonly injured during prostatectomy, resulting in erectile dysfunction (ED). Although peripheral nerves have a limited ability to regenerate, a return of function typically does not occur due to irreversible down stream morphological changes in the penis that result from CN injury. We have shown in previous studies that sonic hedgehog (SHH) is critical for CN regeneration and improves erectile function after crush injury.
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