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Rodent of the week: Mice on Cialis

September 19, 2008 |  2:07 pm

Rodent_of_the_weekObstructive sleep apnea causes a world of problems, one being erectile dysfunction. New research, however, makes some interesting observations about the connection between the two problems.

People with sleep apnea have periods of time during sleep when they stop breathing. Working with mice, researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered that oxygen deprivation appears to be the cause of the ED. They exposed mice to one week of oxygen deprivation episodes that mimic those seen in sleep apnea patients. The mice had a decline in daily spontaneous erections and took much more time to, ahem, make contact with their female friends. The study is published in the current issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, which is a publication of the American Thoracic Society.

The good news is it that the researchers were able to reverse the ED in mice after giving them tadalafil (which is known by the brand name Cialis). Future research is needed to better understand how the oxygen deprivation experienced in obstructive sleep apnea patients affects the part of the central nervous system that influences sexual drive.

"Exploration of alternative interventions aiming at preventing and treating this infrequently spoken of, yet extremely frequent complication of obstructive sleep apnea, will certainly require improved understanding of the complex mechanisms affecting sexual activity and how it is affected by diseases such as sleep apnea," said Dr. David Gozol, the lead author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Advanced Cell Technology Inc.