Peptide Amphiphile Nanofiber Delivery of Sonic Hedgehog Protein to Reduce Smooth Muscle Apoptosis in the Penis after Cavernous Nerve Resection

Christopher W. Bond, Nicholas L. Angeloni, Daniel A. Harrington, Samuel I Stupp, Kevin E. McKenna, Carol A. Podlasek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a serious medical condition that affects 16-82% of prostate cancer patients treated by radical prostatectomy and current treatments are ineffective in 50-60% of prostatectomy patients. The reduced efficacy of treatments makes novel therapeutic approaches to treat ED essential. The secreted protein Sonic hedgehog (SHH) is a critical regulator of penile smooth muscle and apoptosis that is decreased in cavernous nerve (CN) injury and diabetic ED models. Past studies using Affi-Gel beads have shown SHH protein to be effective in suppressing apoptosis caused by CN injury. Aim: We hypothesize that SHH protein delivered via novel peptide amphiphile (PA) nanofibers will be effective in suppressing CN injury-induced apoptosis. Methods: Adult Sprague Dawley rats (n = 50) were used to optimize PA injection in vivo. PA with SHH protein (n = 16) or bovine serum albumin (BSA) (control, n = 14) was injected into adult rats that underwent bilateral CN cut. Rats were sacrificed at 2, 4, and 7 days. Alexa Fluor-labeled SHH protein was used to determine the target of SHH signaling (n = 3). Main Outcome Measures: Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and semiquantitative immunohistochemical analysis for SHH protein and cluster differentiation protein three (CD3) were performed. Results: SHH-PA caused a 25% and 16% reduction in apoptosis at 4 and 7 days after CN injury and a 9.3% and 19% increase in SHH protein at 4 and 7 days after CN injury. CD3 protein was not observed in SHH-PA-treated penis. In vitro, 73% of SHH protein diffused from PA within 6 days. Labeled SHH was observed in smooth muscle. Conclusions: PA technology is effective in delivering SHH protein to the penis and SHH is effective in suppressing CN injury-induced apoptosis. These results suggest substantial translational potential of this methodology and show that only a short duration of SHH treatment is required to impact the apoptotic index.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011



  • Apoptosis
  • Cavernous Nerve Injury
  • Nanotechnology
  • Penile Smooth Muscle
  • Peptide Amphiphile
  • Sonic Hedgehog

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine

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