Erectile impotence is a commonly reported undesired side effect in patients treated for hypertension with alpha-methyldopa. However, the mechanism of that dysfunction has not been determined. In this study we report the effect of 12 days of daily intraperitoneal injections, 300 mg./kg., of alphamethyldopa on adult male, Long-Evans rats and their age-matched saline controls. The effect of the drug upon copulation, penile reflexes and tissue catecholamines was measured. The results showed significant differences between control and experimental animals in all parameters studied. Tests of copulatory ability showed significant decreases in mounts from 5.8 ± 1.6 (mean ± standard error) to 3.1 ± 1.3; penile intromissions from 27.0 ± 3.8 to 4.8 ± 1.9; and ejaculations from 2.1 ± 0.3 to 1.1 ± 0.6 per 30 minute test period. Penile reflexes measured as erection and cup formation showed similar significant reductions. The norepinephrine content of the penile corpora in the controls was 0.460 ± 0.084 ng./mg. wet weight and 0.112 ± 0.022 ng,/mg. wet weight in the experimental group. There were similar significant reductions of norepinephrine content in the vas deferens of these animals 32.95 ± 4.31 ng./mg. and 0.25 ± 0.1 ng./mg. wet weight in the control and experimental groups respectively.
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