Spinal proerectile effect of oxytocin in anesthetized rats

François Giuliano*, Jacques Bernabé, Kevin McKenna, Florence Longueville, Olivier Rampin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The spinal cord contains the neural network that controls penile erection. This network is activated by information from peripheral and supraspinal origin. We tested the hypothesis that oxytocin (OT), released at the lumbosacral spinal cord level by descending projections from the paraventricular nucleus, regulated penile erection. In anesthetized male rats, blood pressure and intracavernous pressure (ICP) were monitored. Intrathecal (it) injection of cumulative doses of OT and the selective OT agonist [Thr4,Gly7]OT at the lumbosacral level elicited ICP rises whose number, amplitude, and area were dose dependent. Thirty nanograms of OT and one-hundred nanograms of the agonist displayed the greatest proerectile effects. Single injections of OT also elicited ICP rises. Preliminary injection of a specific OT-receptor antagonist, hexamethonium, or bilateral pelvic nerve section impaired the effects of OT injected it. NaCl and vasopressin injected it at the lumbosacral level and OT injected it at the thoracolumbar level or intravenously had no effect on ICP. The results demonstrate that OT, acting at the lumbosacral spinal cord, elicits ICP rises in anesthetized rats. They suggest that OT, released on physiological activation of the PVN in a sexually relevant context, is a potent activator of spinal proerectile neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1870-R1877
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 49-6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Paraventricular nucleus
  • Sexual reflexes
  • Urogenital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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