Caffeine could help restore potency in men with erectile dysfunction due to diabetes, the results of a new study in rats suggest.
But drinking coffee won't cure erectile dysfunction in diabetic men, Dr. Run Wang of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, one of the study's authors, told Reuters Health.
If the findings in rodents do translate to humans, he added, it is possible that coffee drinkers might need to take less medication for treating diabetes-related erectile dysfunction.
As many as 75 percent of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction, Wang and his team note in their report, published in the Journal of Andrology.
Erectile dysfunction in diabetic men is chiefly related to poor function of the endothelium, which is responsible for responding to chemical signals to increase blood flow by dilating blood vessels.
Caffeine could help promote erections
Existing drugs for treating erectile dysfunction are phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, which prevent the breakdown of an erection-promoting chemical called cGMP, Wang explained.
While Viagra, Cialis and other drugs target PDE-5, which is specific to the penis, caffeine blocks the action of several types of PDE inhibitors, thus inhibiting the breakdown of cGMP throughout the body.
To investigate whether caffeine might help promote erections through these non-specific effects, the researchers treated diabetic rats with caffeine for eight weeks and then tested their erectile function.
Before treatment, the diabetic animals had lower pressure in the erectile tissue of the penis during stimulation and lower levels of cGMP compared to the normal control rats. But after the diabetic animals were given caffeine, penile pressure during erection increased and levels of cGMP rose, although not to the same levels as seen in the non-diabetic animals.
Clinical trial planned
When rats were given 10 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day (mg/kg/day) or 20 mg/kg/day, there was no difference in response between the two groups.
The lower dosage is equivalent to a person consuming 250 mg of caffeine daily, the researchers note, or the average daily caffeine dose for humans.
Wang's colleague Dr Yutian Dai of Nanjing University School of Medicine China, said he is now investigating whether caffeine may have erection-promoting effects that aren't related to cGMP, and he is planning a clinical trial of caffeine for treating erectile dysfunction in humans. – (Reuters Health, May 2008)
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