Gas what: NO is not the only answer to sexual function

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Yetik-Anacak G. , SORRENTINO R., LINDER A. E. , Murat N.

BRITISH JOURNAL OF PHARMACOLOGY, vol.172, no.6, pp.1434-1454, 2015 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 172 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/bph.12700
  • Page Numbers: pp.1434-1454


The ability to get and keep an erection is important to men for several reasons and the inability is known as erectile dysfunction (ED). ED has started to be accepted as an early indicator of systemic endothelial dysfunction and subsequently of cardiovascular diseases. The role of NO in endothelial relaxation and erectile function is well accepted. The discovery of NO as a small signalling gasotransmitter led to the investigation of the role of other endogenously derived gases, carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in physiological and pathophysiological conditions. The role of NO and CO in sexual function and dysfunction has been investigated more extensively and, recently, the involvement of H2S in erectile function has also been confirmed. In this review, we focus on the role of these three sister gasotransmitters in the physiology, pharmacology and pathophysiology of sexual function in man, specifically erectile function. We have also reviewed the role of soluble guanylyl cyclase/cGMP pathway as a common target of these gasotransmitters. Several studies have proposed alternative therapies targeting different mechanisms in addition to PDE-5 inhibition for ED treatment, since some patients do not respond to these drugs. This review highlights complementary and possible coordinated roles for these mediators and treatments targeting these gasotransmitters in erectile function/ED.