Erectile function (EF) is frequently compromised in men with multiple sclerosis (MS). Functional neuroimaging in healthy men identified a network of brain areas, such as the insula, visual and somatosensory association areas, cingulate gyrus, prefrontal cortex, as well as subcortical regions, contributing to EF. This study intended to determine associations between EF deterioration during MS and cerebral MS-associated lesion sites. In 31 men with MS (mean age 38.2 ± 11.2 years), we evaluated MS-related EF deterioration by comparing scores of the 5-item International Index of Erectile Function-5 questionnaire (IIEF5) at the time of study and retrospectively, 3 months prior to MS diagnosis, by calculating score differences as DeltaIIEF5 (DeltaIIEF5 score < 0 indicated EF deterioration). To assess the impact of confounding factors of EF, patient age, disease duration, disease severity, depressiveness, bladder and bowel symptoms, and total cerebral MS lesion volume were correlated with DeltaIIEF5 scores (Spearman rank correlation) and compared between patients with and without EF deterioration (t tests or Mann-Whitney U test). MS lesions were assessed on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; 1.5 or 3 T). We determined the lesion overlap (prevalence of identical lesion sites among patients), subtracted lesion overlaps in patients without EF deterioration from overlaps in patients with EF deterioration, and compared DeltaIIEF5 scores voxel-wise between patients with and without lesions in a given voxel (t test; significance: p < 0.05). In 14 patients (45.2%), DeltaIIEF5 scores indicated EF deterioration. DeltaIIEF5 scores were not associated with age (ρ = 0.06; p = 0.74), disease duration (ρ = 0.26; p = 0.15), disease severity (ρ = - 0.19; p = 0.31), depressiveness (ρ = 0.07; p = 0.72), bladder symptoms (ρ = - 0.11; p = 0.57), bowel symptoms (ρ = 0.17; p = 0.37), and total lesion volume (ρ = - 0.13; p = 0.47). The voxel-wise analysis showed associations between EF deterioration and MS lesions primarily in the bilateral, and predominantly left juxtacortical insular region. In conclusion, MS lesions particularly in the left insular region, which is activated with sexual arousal, contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Journal of neurology. 2018 Feb 01 [Epub ahead of print]
Klemens Winder, Ralf A Linker, Frank Seifert, Martina Deutsch, Tobias Engelhorn, Arnd Dörfler, De-Hyung Lee, Katharina M Hösl, Max J Hilz
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Schwabachanlage 6, 91054, Erlangen, Germany., Department of Neuroradiology, University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany., Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Paracelsus Medical University, Nuremberg, Germany., Department of Neurology, University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Schwabachanlage 6, 91054, Erlangen, Germany. .