Overexpression of arginase in the aged mouse penis impairs erectile function and decreases eNOS activity: Influence of in vivo gene therapy of anti-arginase

Trinity J. Bivalacqua, Arthur L. Burnett, Wayne J.G. Hellstrom, Hunter C. Champion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Since both increased nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS) abundance and diminished NO signaling have been reported in the aging penis, the role of NO in the adaptations of aging remains controversial. Here we tested the hypothesis that arginase, an enzyme that competes with NOS for the substrate L-arginine, contributes to erectile dysfunction with advanced age in the B6/129 mouse strain. Arginase protein abundance, mRNA expression, and enzyme activity were elevated in aged compared with young penile endothelial cells. In addition, endothelial NOS (NOS3) protein abundance was greater in aged versus young penile endothelial cells, whereas NOS activity and cGMP levels were reduced. Calcium-dependent L-arginine-to-L-citrulline conversion and cGMP formation increased significantly in aged mouse penes in the presence of the arginase inhibitor 2(S)-amino-6-boronohexanoic acid (ABH). However, there was no effect on L-arginine-to-L-citrulline conversion or cGMP accumulation in the endothelium from young mouse penes. To assess the functional role of arginase in the inhibition of NOS pathway responsiveness in the penis, we evaluated the effects of ABH and an adeno-associated virus encoding an antisense sequence to arginase I (AAVanti-arginase) on erectile function in vivo. ABH and AAVanti-arginase enhanced endothelium-dependent erectile responses in the aged mice without altering endothelium-independent responses. Paralleling our in vitro observations, ABH or AAVanti-arginase did not affect vascular responses in the young mice. Inhibition of the arginase pathway improves endothelial function in the aging penile circulation, suggesting that the arginase pathway may be exploited to improve erectile dysfunction associated with aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1340-H1351
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Cardiovascular aging
  • Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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