Fibrosis Could Be Key to Understanding Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s disease is a complicated condition, especially since scientists still aren’t sure of its exact cause. And while current treatments, like surgery and injection therapy, can be effective, they manage symptoms rather than target causes.
With this in mind, a team of scientists decided to further investigate potential causes of Peyronie’s disease to see how future treatments might develop. They published their findings in April 2019 in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews.
Men with Peyronie’s disease have a distinct curve in their penis. The curve comes from the formation of hardened, fibrous plaques on the tunica albuginea – the membrane that surrounds two chambers of the penis that fill with blood during an erection (corpora cavernosa).
In its first stage, Peyronie’s disease can be painful. By its second stage, the condition typically results in “a stable, permanent, more-often-then-not painless deformity.” However, that deformity can make intercourse difficult, and some men develop erectile dysfunction (ED).
Some experts believe that Peyronie’s disease occurs when a penile injury does not heal properly. This might happen during sex. “During sexual intercourse, a buckling force is exerted on the penile shaft due to curving of an otherwise straight object,” the authors explained. Thrusting may lead to minor trauma.
Fibrosis is one way the body deals with chronic inflammation. “Fibrosis can be considered as an abnormal (or excessive) wound healing response that occurs often as the final pathologic outcome of chronic tissue injury,” the authors noted.
One way to think of fibrosis is by thinking of the word fiber. Fibrous tissue sometimes resembles fibers stuck together. Fibrosis can occur in different parts of the body, such as the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis), the liver (cirrhosis), and the heart (cardiac fibrosis).
After reviewing medical literature on fibrosis in the context of Peyronie’s disease, the study authors reported some encouraging results in the science of stem cells and genetics.
“Recent breakthroughs using stem cells, next-generation sequencing, and phenotypical screening assays bring us several steps closer to filling the gaps in our knowledge,” they wrote.
“In the near future, clinical trials will prove essential to translate this plethora of preclinical data into usable tools that can improve the lives of many of our patients,” they concluded.
Robertson, Sally, B.Sc.
“What is Fibrosis?”
(Last updated: August 23, 2018)
Sexual Medicine Reviews
Milenkovic, Uros, MD, et al.
“Pathophysiology and Future Therapeutic Perspectives for Resolving Fibrosis in Peyronie’s Disease”
(Full-text. Published online: April 5, 2019)