1. Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Tianhe Road 600, Guangzhou, 510630, China.
2. Central Laboratory, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Tianhe Road 600, Guangzhou, 510630, China.
*These authors contributed equally.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is an important kind of postoperative complication of pelvic surgery that affects patients' quality of life. Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) has been found to alleviate ED caused by cavernous nerve injury (CNI) in rats. However, little is known about whether induced pluripotent stem cell-derived mesenchymal stem cells (iMSC) have a therapeutic effect on CNI ED. We established an ED model on rats and evaluated the effect of iMSC on it.
Methods: Eight-week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to four groups and received following operation: sham operation (sham group); bilateral CNI and phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) injections (PBS group); bilateral CNI and adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells transplantation (adMSC group); or bilateral CNI and iMSC injection (iMSC group). After therapy, the cavernous nerve was stimulated by electricity and the intracavernous pressure (IAP)/mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) was measured. The endothelial and smooth muscle tissue in the penis was assessed histologically with Masson's trichrome stain. Immunofluorescence/immunohistochemical stains were applied for the detection of nNOS, vWF, eNOS, SMA, Desmin, S100β, and caspase-3. Nude rats CNI ED model was established for the evaluation of iMSC longevity and differentiation capacity. The paracrine factors were assessed by real-time PCR.
Results: Transplantation of iMSC significantly restored the IAP/MAP in this CNI ED model and showed long-term effects. It could rescue the expression of vWF, eNOS, SMA, and Desmin, which indicated the alleviation of endothelial and smooth muscle tissues of the penis. iMSC therapy also could increase the expression of nNOS in the cavernosum and S100β in the major pelvic ganglia (MPG) which contributed to the erectile function. Moreover, the level of BAX and caspase-3 were reduced and Bcl-2 was increased, which indicated the anti-apoptosis effects of iMSC. The iMSC showed little transdifferentiation and exerted their function by activating the secretome of the host.
Conclusion: Transplantation of iMSC significantly improved ED induced by CNI. The iMSC may exert their effects via paracrine factors and may be a promising therapeutic candidate for treating CNI ED in the future.
Keywords: induced pluripotent stem cell-derived mesenchymal stem cell, cavernous nerve injury, erectile dysfunction, cell therapy