Peripheral relaxant activity of apomorphine and of a D1 selective receptor agonist on human corpus cavernosum strips

R. D Emmanuele Di Villa Bianca, R. Sorrentino, F. Roviezzo, C. Imbimbo, A. Palmieri, G. De Dominicis, F. Montorsi, G. Cirino, V. Mirone

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Apomorphine is used in the erectile dysfunction therapy and its action has been ascribed to the stimulation of central dopamine receptor. At the present stage, very little is known about the peripheral action of apomorphine on human corpus cavernosum (HCC). We have investigated the peripheral action of apomorphine and the role of dopamine receptors in HCC. We here demonstrate that both D1 and D2 receptors were expressed in the HCC, D1 receptors were two-fold more abundant than D2 and that both receptors were mainly localized on the smooth muscle cell component. Apomorphine in vitro exerted an anti-α1 adrenergic activity in human cavernosal strips since it prevented contraction induced by phenylephrine (PE), but not by U46619 or endothelin. Apomorphine elicited endothelium-independent and concentration-dependent relaxation of the strips contracted by PE, U46619 or endothelin. The EC50 values (μM) for apomorphine, in the presence and absence of endothelium, were 51.0 ± 16 and 16.0 ± 14, 120 ± 19 and 150 ± 18, 59.0 ± 15 and 140 ± 50 on PE-, U46619- or endothelin-induced contraction, respectively. Selective dopamine receptor agonist A-68930 (D1-like), but not quinpirole (D2-like), caused concentration-dependent relaxation of the cavernosal strips, which was partially prevented by endothelium removal or by treatment with an inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthase. In conclusion, we show that (1) apomorphine has a peripheral relaxant direct effect as well as an antiadrenergic activity, (2) HCC possesses more D1-like (D1 and D5) than D2-like (D2, D3 and D4) receptors, (3) both D1- and D2-like receptors are mainly localized on smooth muscle cells and (4) the relaxant activity is most probably mediated by D1-like receptor partially through NO release from endothelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Impotence Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • Apomorphine
  • cAMP
  • Dopamine receptors
  • Human corpus cavernosum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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