The aim of this study was to evaluate the hypothesis that interstitial cells might play a role in controlling and synchronizing via gap junctions the electrical activity of smooth muscle cells. The expression and distribution of interstitial cells in human penile erectile tissue was evaluated to determine whether or not cavernous interstitial cells express the gap junction protein connexin 43. Specimens of human corpus cavernosum were excised from full preparations of human penises. Cryostat sections (10 microm to 15 microm) of formaldehyde-fixated tissue segments were incubated using a double-labelling technique with antibodies directed against smooth muscle alpha-actin, c-kit, and connexin 43. Then, sections were exposed to secondary antibodies. Visualization was commenced by means of laser fluorescence microscopy. Double-staining techniques revealed immunosignals specific for c-kit (transmembrane receptor protein) and connexin 43 (gap junction protein) in multipolar cells located adjacent to smooth muscle cells. The number of c-kit-positive cells was significantly lower within the smooth musculature than within bundles of connective tissue surrounding smooth muscle cells of corpus cavernosum or cavernous arteries. Our findings demonstrate the distribution of c-kit- and connexin 43-positive interstitial cells in the connective tissue and smooth musculature of the corpus cavernosum. Additional studies are needed in order to evaluate further the ultrastructure of human penile erectile tissue and enable the identification of gap junctions mediating direct cell-to-cell communication.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Georgian medical news|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2010|
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