Corporeal structural and vascular micro architecture with X-ray micro computerized tomography in normal and diabetic rabbits: Histopathological correlation

Demetrios N. Simopoulos, Simon J. Gibbons, John Malysz, Joseph H. Szurszewski, Gianrico Farrugia, Erik L. Ritman, Robert B. Moreland, Ajay Nehra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose: The pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus induced erectile dysfunction is poorly understood. In patients with diffuse venous leakage structural changes in the corpora cavernosa have correlated with failure of the veno-occlusive mechanism. Three-dimensional (D) micro computerized tomography (CT) has proved to be an important imaging technique for the intact kidney, heart, liver and bone. We examined control and diabetic rabbit penises by 3-D micro CT and quantified any structural changes. Materials and Methods: Male white New Zealand rabbits were treated with alloxan to induce diabetes or used as normal controls. Via aortic access at laparotomy the penile vascular tree was vasodilated with papaverine and perfused with radiopaque silicone rubber. X-ray micro CT was then performed at 21 μm. resolution and images were analyzed in 3-D using custom software. Results: Nine diabetic rabbits with blood glucose greater than 400 mg./dl. and 9 control animals were used for micro CT analysis. Significant decreases (p <0.05) were observed in the mean sinusoidal and vascular volume fraction plus or minus standard error of mean of the corpus cavernosum in the diabetic (323.7 ± 43.1 mm.3 and 37.9 ± 2.0%, respectively) and control (510.1 ± 47.4 mm.3 and 53.1 ± 3.80%, respectively) groups. Also, the mean left and right cavernous artery luminal cross-sectional area in diabetics (0.15 ± 0.02 and 0.16 ± 0.01 mm.2, respectively) versus controls (0.2 ± 0.01 and 0.2 ± 0.01 mm.2, respectively) was significantly decreased (p <0.05). Furthermore, the mean left and right total cavernous artery luminal volume in diabetics (0.4 ± 0.07 and 0.4 ± 0.09 mm.3, respectively) versus controls (1.0 ± 0.13 and 0.9 ± 0.11 mm.3, respectively) was significantly decreased (p <0.05). Conclusions: Diabetic rabbit penises showed a significant decrease in corporeal vascular volume as well as decreased cavernous artery diameter and luminal volume compared to controls. This finding correlated well with the mean decrease in trabecular smooth muscle in control and severely diabetic rabbits on histopathological studies (42.2% ± 1.5% versus 35.8% ± 1.5%). This combination of potential arterial insufficiency as well as an increase in diffuse connective tissue may contribute to the overall pathophysiology of diabetic erectile dysfunction. These results suggest that 3-D x-ray micro CT with molecular analysis may be a powerful tool for examining the pathophysiology of diabetic erectile dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1776-1782
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number5 I
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Impotence
  • Penis
  • Rabbits
  • Tomography, x-ray computed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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