Brussels, Belgium
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Wespes E.,CHU de Charleroi. Charleroi | Schulman C.C.,Institute Cavell
Archivos Espanoles de Urologia | Year: 2010

Erection is a vascular phenomenon under a psychologic control in a hormonal environment. Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to obtain and to maintain sufficient erection for satisfactory intercourse. Organic erectile dysfunction results mainly from vascular problems due to atherosclerosis, a process that begins during childhood, and becomes clinically evident from middle age. Endothelial dysfunction is the first step of atherosclerosis. As the endothelial cells recover the sinusoid spaces in the cavernous tissue and because common risk factors for atherosclerosis have been frequently found in patients with erectile dysfunction, it is logical that vascular impotence presents the same pathophysiology of the other vascular diseases. They share a similar pathogenic involvement of nitric oxide pathway leading to impairment of endothelium dependent vasodilatation and structural vascular abnormalities. Circulating markers of endothelial cell damage have been reported in patients with erectile dysfunction while they have not yet presented any other vascular pathology. Endothelial progenitor cells of bone marrow origin that play a role in promoting endothelial repair are also reduced in vascular abnormalities. As penile arteries have the smallest diameter in the vascular network and because atherosclerosis is a systemic disease, erectile dysfunction could be a sentinel symptom of a more generalized vascular pathology. Modifications of reversible causes or risk factors at the base of the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis remain the first approach toward improving endothelial function and associated with chronic exposure to PDE5-I, they could improve or even cure ED and could avoid fatal cardiovascular attacks in the future.

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