Difference in glycohistochemical lectin staining of collagen fibers in the corpora cavernosa of normal and impotent men

Gil Raviv, Eric Wespes, Juan Pablo Vanegas, Michel Petein, Claude C. Schulman, Robert Kiss*, André Danguy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objectives of this study were to investigate the value of glycohistochemical staining with three lectin types specific to a particular glycan structure (Arachis hypogaea [PNA], Triticum vulgare [WGA], and concanavalin A [Con A]) as a method of defining possible changes in the collagen structure in the corpora cavernosa in potent and impotent men. The study group consisted of 4 normal potent men and 22 men with various etiologies of impotence. The quantitative histochemical measurements were performed by means of a cell image processor. Two variables for each of the three types of lectins were studied. These were the mean optical density (MOD), which relates to glycohistochemical staining intensity, and the labeling index (LI), which is positively related to the percentage of immunostaining. Only WGA staining made it possible to discriminate significantly between the normal and pathological groups under study. The two parameters (LI, MOD) were significantly higher in the case of WGA staining in the normal group (P = 0.004 and 0.013, respectively). In contrast, only the mean LI value, in the case of the psychogenic and venogenic patients, reached a level of statistical significance (P = 0.005 and 0.001, respectively), when it increased from PNA through WGA to Con A histochemical staining. The two variables (LI, MOD) changed markedly from PNA through WGA to Con A in the arteriogenic patients (P = 0.003 and P < 0.001, respectively). WGA is of diagnostic value in distinguishing between normal and abnormal collagen in the corpora cavernosa. The difference in the lectin staining of the other groups, particularly the arteriogenic group, may be attributed to alterations in the glycosylation of the procollagen that are probably due to changes in the partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) level, an important cofactor in normal glycosylation. WGA staining may therefore be used as a marker to distinguish true psychogenic patients from those with organic diseases. Moreover, it may be used as an additional parameter in selecting the best candidates for penile revascularization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Andrology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Fibrous skeleton
  • impotence
  • lectin histochemistry
  • penis


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