Structural and stereological analysis of elastic fibers in the glans penis of young men

Vol. 53 No. 2, 2012


F. Andrade, G. P. Cardoso, Ana Luiza Bastos, W. Costa, M. Chagas, M. Babinski

The extracellular matrix is an important element in penile function and pathology, although little is known about its components in human glans. This study evaluates the morphological organization and volumetric density of elastic fibers in the glans penis of young men without any evidence of urogenital disease at autopsy or medical history. Penile glans were obtained from five young men who died of causes not related to the urogenital tract, ranging in age from 18 to 30 years (mean 24 years). Samples were fixed in formalin, embedded in paraffin, and histologically processed. Tissue was analyzed by light microscopy using Weigert's resorcin-fuchsin, after previous oxidation with oxone. The point-counting method was used for morphometrical evaluation. Quantities were expressed as volumetric densities (Vv) and were determined on 25 random fields for each individual. Elastic system fibers were easily identified. These fibers had tortuous profile and surrounded sinusoids in the glans penis. An irregular elastic fibers network was identified in the mucosa, while in the corpus spongiosum the elastic fibers were longitudinally distributed. Volumetric density of elastic fibers in the glans penis is 29.4%+/-3.1. These data could provide valuable information in order to draw parallels regarding patients with erectile dysfunction. Further studies regarding extracellular matrix of the penis are necessary to better elucidate the relation between elastic fibers and erectile dysfunction.

Corresponding author: Filipe Moreira de Andrade, MD; e-mail:

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