Steroid hormones, such as testosterone, play a crucial role in modulating the development of male internal and external genitalia as well as secondary sex characteristics by binding to the androgen receptor. Once bound, androgen receptor operates as an inducible transcription factor, interacting with a multitude of co-regulators to initiate various downstream signaling pathways. The androgen saturation hypothesis posits that beyond a specific threshold, androgen receptor binding and functionality remain unaltered despite an increase in serum testosterone levels.
The objective of this study was to explore the expression of these proteins in penile tissue samples from men with severe erectile dysfunction to enhance our understanding of the influence of serum testosterone on androgen receptor function.
Patients undergoing surgical management for high-grade ED at our institution were invited to participate in the study. During inflatable penile prosthesis surgery, corpus cavernosum biopsy was obtained. Protein was extracted from each sample for western blot analysis which was probed with androgen receptor, heme oxygenase, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and phosphodiesterase type 5 antibodies with GAPDH for protein normalization.
12 men agreed to participate in this study. Serum testosterone levels were obtained from all participants on the morning of their surgery. The median testosterone level was 300.15 ng/dL. Our findings revealed a decrease in androgen receptor and inducible nitric oxide synthase expression at serum testosterone levels below 300 ng/dL (p = 0.022, 0.03). Similarly, hemeoxygenase and phosphodiesterase type 5 expression levels were significantly lower at serum T concentrations below 200 ng/dL (p = 0.017, 0.014).
These data showed a significant decrease in the expression of proteins downstream of the androgen receptor at lower serum T levels. This suggests a potential correlation between serum T concentration and androgen receptor signaling and supports a potential saturation value between 200 and 300 ng/dL.
Andrology. 2023 Aug 08 [Epub ahead of print]
Kajal Khodamoradi, Katherine Campbell, Himanshu Arora, Ranjith Ramasamy
Desai Sethi Urology Institute, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA.