Long-term exposure to gasoline vehicle exhaust has a detrimental effect on the erectile function of rats, according to a recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study.
While the results can’t be directly applied to humans, they do suggest that vehicle exhaust might play a role in erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.
Air pollution, particularly traffic exhaust, has been linked to several medical conditions, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular events, and male infertility. However, little is known about pollution’s effects on male sexual function.
To learn more, researchers conducted an experiment with forty 12-week-old male rats, which were equally divided into four groups.
For three months, one group (the control group) stayed in a room with continuous fresh air. The other groups were exposed to gasoline vehicle exhaust produced by a motorcycle and delivered through a tube connected to a special room. These three groups were exposed to one 2-hour session, two 2-hour sessions, or three 2-hour sessions for a total of two, four, and six hours of daily exposure, respectively. Exposure took place five days a week for three months.
At the end of the three months, the rats were evaluated for erectile function, lung function, and inflammation. Researchers also examined the microscopic structure of lung and penile tissue for each rat.
They discovered that lung function and erectile function had declined for the rats in the 4-hour and 6-hour exposure groups. These rats also had higher rates of pulmonary fibrosis (damaged lung tissue) compared to the control group and the rats in the 2-hour exposure group. Inflammation was more common in the three exposure groups than the control group.
The authors pointed out that inflammation and some respiratory conditions (such as asthma and obstructive sleep apnea) have both been associated with erectile dysfunction.
“Translation of our findings to clinical practice indicates that both patients and clinicians should be aware of the potential role played by long-term exposure to gasoline [vehicle exhaust] in the development of ED,” they wrote.
“Sorry Fellas, High Pollution Levels Have Been Linked To Erectile Dysfunction (At Least, In Rats)”
(February 4, 2019)
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Zhao, Shankun, MD, et al.
“Elucidating Mechanisms of Long-Term Gasoline Vehicle Exhaust Exposure–Induced Erectile Dysfunction in a Rat Model”
(Full-text. Published online: January 25, 2019)