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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 5161248, 12 pages
Research Article

Neurotrophic Effect of Adipose Tissue-Derived Stem Cells on Erectile Function Recovery by Pigment Epithelium-Derived Factor Secretion in a Rat Model of Cavernous Nerve Injury

1Department of Urology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510080, China
2Department of Urology, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510630, China
3Reproductive Medicine Research Center, The Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510655, China
4Department of Biochemistry, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510080, China

Received 4 April 2015; Revised 14 August 2015; Accepted 23 August 2015

Academic Editor: Yang D. Teng

Copyright © 2016 Xin Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The paracrine effect is the major mechanism of stem cell therapy. However, the details of the effect’s mechanism remain unknown. The aim of this study is to investigate whether adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs) can ameliorate cavernous nerve injury-induced erectile dysfunction (CNIED) rats and to determine its mechanism. Twenty-eight days after intracavernous injection of 5-ethynyl-2-deoxyuridine- (EdU-) labeled ADSCs, the erectile function of all the rats was evaluated by intracavernosal pressure (ICP). The ADSCs steadily secreted detectable pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) in vitro. The expression of PEDF increased in the penis of the bilateral cavernous nerve injury (BCNI) group for 14 days and then gradually decreased. On day 28 after the intracavernous injection, the ADSCs group exhibited a significantly increased ICP compared with the phosphate buffered saline- (PBS-) treated group. Moreover, the neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and S100 expression in penile dorsal nerves and the smooth muscle content to collagen ratio in penile tissues significantly increased. Furthermore, elevated PEDF, p-Akt, and p-eNOS were identified in the ADSCs group. This study demonstrated that intracavernous injection of ADSCs improved erectile function, repaired the nerve, and corrected penile fibrosis. One potential mechanism is the PEDF secretion of ADSCs and subsequent PI3K/Akt pathway activation.