Melanocortinergic control of penile erection

H. Wessells, J. E. Blevins, T. W. Vanderah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Melanocortin receptors in the forebrain and spinal cord can be activated by endogenous or synthetic ligands to induce penile erection in rats and human subjects. To better understand how melanocortin circuits play a role in sex behavior, we review the contribution of melanocortin receptors and/or neurons in the hypothalamus, hindbrain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves to erectile function. New information regarding neuropeptides that mediate penile erection has extended our understanding of the central control of sex behavior, and melanocortin agonists may provide alternatives to existing treatment for highly prevalent problems including erectile dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1972-1977
Number of pages6
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Hindbrain
  • MSH
  • Proopiomelanocortin
  • Sex behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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