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Nerve chemical makes penis (stay) erect

JOHNS HOPKINS (US) — The nervous system chemical that triggers a man’s erection also helps him maintain it, researchers say.

The discovery of the biochemical chain of events that keeps a male penis erect after the initial response may lead to new therapies to help men with erectile dysfunction.

“We’ve closed a gap in our knowledge,” says Arthur Burnett, professor of urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We knew that the release of the chemical nitric oxide, a neurotransmitter that is produced in nerve tissue, triggers an erection by relaxing muscles that allow blood to fill the penis.

“We thought that was just the initial stimulus. In our research, we wanted to understand what happens next to enable that erection to be maintained.”

It turns out that nitric oxide is also involved in that complex process, senior author Burnett and colleagues report in an article published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a study of mice, Burnett and colleagues found a positive feedback loop in the penile nerves that triggers waves of nitric oxide to keep the penis erect. The key finding is that after the initial release of nitric oxide, a biochemical process called phosphorylation takes place to continue its release and sustain the erection.

In 1992, Burnett and Johns Hopkins colleague Solomon S. Snyder, a professor of neuroscience who is also a co-author of the new study, showed for the first time that nitric oxide is produced in penile tissue. That research demonstrated the key role of nitric oxide as a neurotransmitter responsible for triggering erections.

“Now, 20 years later, we know that nitric oxide is not just a blip here or there, but instead it initiates a cyclic system that continues to produce waves of the neurotransmitter from the penile nerves,” Burnett says.

Since the basic biology of erections in laboratory mice is the same as in humans, Burnett says, the new rodent research may open the way to new treatments for erection problems caused by diabetes, vascular disease, surgical nerve damage or other causes. Such new approaches could be used to intervene earlier in the arousal process than current medicines for erectile dysfunction.

“It has been a 20-year journey to complete our understanding of this process,” Snyder says. “Now it may be possible to develop therapies to enhance or facilitate the process.”

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funded the work. Other co-authors are at Johns Hopkins and at the University of Colorado and Morgan State University.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

chat13 Comments

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13 Comments

  1. nerf herder

    Ah, this is an interesting commentary – even among people who enjoy reading about science, an article about erections gets about 3000 views, while an article about tree rings gets a little over 300 views in the same amount of time.

  2. MZK

    Maybe because trees don’t have access to the internet yet…

  3. Maureen Morrow

    This is great news. Now, perhaps I won’t have to endure watching primetime TV ads from the pharmaceutical industry about erectile dysfunction with my young teen daughter.

  4. Emmanuel Johnson

    Please i have a problem,i cannot last more than one minute when making love with my wife and this has been a problem to us,please what do i do?

  5. Mulesi

    Please i have a problem not erecting whenwhen i want to make love what can i do to improve?

  6. Patrick Gleeson

    Hey guys,

    Fascinating read!

    Just stumbled on your site after conducting some research on Google into impotence.

    For the last 5 years I’ve suffered with partial impotence, later diagnosed as PI (psychological impotence)
    Since this time i’ve gradually made a full recovery. For me, it was never a physical thing, it was all in my head after some previously bad experiences.

    I learned about nitric oxide a while back on a bodybuilding forum. I started buying and self medicating with L-Arginine an amino acid. It’s long been known that fairly high doses of this safe and natural supplement can increase blood flow to the penis. Reading the above article makes a lot of sense, and hopefully it will pave the way to providing good treatment for those men who really need it.

    Best Wishes,
    Patrick

    Anyway, great site and thanks for giving me this opportunity to speak.

  7. Emmanuel Baptist Church

    I do believe that buying and self medicating with L-Arginine an amino acid. It’s long been known that fairly high doses of this safe and natural supplement can increase blood flow to the penis. Reading the above article makes a lot of sense, and hopefully it will pave the way to providing good treatment for those men who really need it.

  8. Dr Shelley Higgins

    Hi,

    Nice article, anything which can help to keep a man’s erection strong and hard and working at peak efficiency is good. I have many gentlemen visit my practice every week complaining about soft, weak erections. The problem all too often stems from following unhealthy lifestyle choices. I like to tell men who have problems getting it up, that pills are useful short term, but a more natural approach is much better for sustaining suitably hard erections on cue. After browsing Google for further informatuon which could benefit your readers, I found the page below.

    http://dreampenisguide.com/blog/how-to-get-stronger-and-harder-erections-naturally

    Sincerely,
    Dr Shelley Higgins

  9. Rufus Conn

    Regular erections are like workouts for the penis. The penis needs these erections to stay in shape. An erection results in fresh blood flows to the penis and this flow of blood enriches the penis with oxygen. So, if you want your penis in shape, get your daily dose of erections. Even if you are not aroused in the day, don’t worry because the brain will maintain your penis by triggering erections in the middle of the night.

  10. Gerald

    From what I’ve read, you should get or keep an erection at least 3 times a week to maintain a healthy penis. Which that makes sense, you need to use it for it to be healthy. Read about this at http://mountsinaiannualreport0910.ca

  11. Joachim Stephan

    Very helpful information. What do you considerl anl effective dosej oft L Argenine to be. I have never read this type of information anywherek else. Thank you and your readers

  12. Joachim Stephan

    Very helpful information. What do you consider an effective dose of Arginine to be? I have never read this type of information anywhere else. Thank you and your readers.

  13. Mike OHara

    Arginine, what is a safe amount to
    take. Thanks, mike ohara
    elizabethtonmike2@gmail.com

    Ive had a lot. of lumbar of spine surgerys, which has made me feel almost dead down there please. help

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