Nitric oxide may mediate nipple erection

Murat Tezer, Yasemin Ozluk, Oner Sanli, Oktar Asoglu, Ates Kadioglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The nipple is a specialized structure that can become erect by cold, sexual arousal, breast-feeding, or other tactile stimulations, which can induce the milk ejection reflex and sexual arousal because of intense sensory innervation. The studies that have been conducted thus far to identify the mechanismof nipple erection (NE) are not sufficient. It has been stated that NE occurs via activation of the sympathetic nervous system and smooth muscle contraction. The purposes of this study were to investigate the existence of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) in the nipple-areola complex (NAC) to explain the NE mechanism. Considering that smooth muscle relaxation might be effective in NE, endothelial and neuronal NOS expression and localization were investigated via immunohistochemical methods on sagittal sections from17 human NACs. The results of this study indicate that eNOS is expressed in the vascular endothelium, ductal epithelium, and smooth muscles, whereas nNOS is expressed in the neural fibers, smooth muscles, ductal epithelium, and vascular endothelium in the NAC. Sinusoidal spaces with endothelial layers similar to those found in penile cavernosal tissue are not found in the NAC. Various mediators are known to affect the function of the NAC smooth muscles; however, this study demonstrates that enzymes (eNOS and nNOS) that synthesize nitric oxide are expressed in the NAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-810
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Andrology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012


  • Breast physiology
  • Breast-feeding
  • Female sexuality
  • Nitric oxide synthase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Urology


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