Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) has been demonstrated by immunofluorescence histochermistry in nerves in human and rat penile tissue. A reduction in VIP-like immunoreactivity in nerves was revealed in tissue from streptozotocin-diabetic rats and a human diabetic with impotence. These results suggest that an impairment in the VIP-ergic innervation in penile tissue may be an important factor in the development of impotence in diabetes. They also support the view that the streptozotocin-treated rat is a useful experimental model for diabetic autonomie neuropathy.

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