Human spinal ejaculation generator
Objective A spinal ejaculation generator (SEG) has been identified in the rat with lumbar galaninergic interneurons playing a pivotal role (Science 2002;297:1566–1569). The aim was to evidence a SEG in humans. Methods Spatial distribution of galaninergic neurons was studied in postmortem spinal cord segments of 6 men and compared with that of 6 women for evidencing sexual dimorphism. Based on the identified segmental distribution of galaninergic neurons, the ability for penile vibratory stimulation (PVS) to elicit ejaculation when the concerned spinal segments were injured was studied in 384 patients with clinically complete spinal cord injury (SCI) and consequent anejaculation. Such patients represent a unique model to investigate the role of defined spinal segments in the control of ejaculation. Results Galaninergic neurons were mostly located between L2 and L5 segments in medial lamina VII, with a maximal density within L4. Three‐dimensional 3D reconstruction showed that these neurons were grouped into single columns bilaterally to the central canal. In addition, galaninergic neuron density was found higher in L3 and L4 segments in men as compared to women supporting sexual dimorphism. In the patients' cohort, injury of L3–L5 segments was the sole independent predictor for failure of PVS to induce ejaculation. Although evidence from clinical observations was indirect, there is close correspondence to neuroanatomical data. Interpretation Organization and sexual dimorphism of human spinal galaninergic neurons were similar to the rat's SEG. Neurohistological data, together with clinical results, corroborate the existence of an SEG in humans in L3–L5 segments. Such a generator could be targeted to treat neurogenic and non‐neurogenic ejaculatory disorders. ANN NEUROL 2017;81:35–45
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