Objective To investigate the expression and distribution of phosphodiesterase (PDE) isoenzymes PDE1A, PDE2A, PDE4A, PDE4B, and PDE5A in human urethral tissue. Methods Specimens of penile urethra were obtained from male subjects who had undergone male-to-female sex reassignment surgery. Using immunohistochemistry (immunofluorescence), the occurrence of PDE1A, PDE2A, PDE4A, PDE4B, and PDE5A, the neuronal nitric oxide synthase, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide was examined in urethral sections. Cytosolic supernatants prepared from isolated human urethral tissue were subjected to Western blot analysis using specific anti-PDE antibodies. Results Immunosignals specific for PDE1A, 4A, 4B, and 5A were observed in the urethral smooth musculature. The smooth muscle bundles were seen innervated by slender nerve fibers, characterized by the expression of the neuronal nitric oxide synthase, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide. The expression of the PDE isoenzymes mentioned was confirmed by Western blotting. Conclusion The results provide evidence for a significance of both the cyclic adenosine monophosphate and cyclic guanosine monophosphate signaling in the control of human urethral smooth muscle. The selective inhibition of PDE isoenzymes might represent a pharmacologic option to influence the function of smooth musculature in the human outflow region.
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