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Clin Cardiol. 2004 Apr;27(4 Suppl 1):I14-19.

Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor differentiation based on selectivity, pharmacokinetic, and efficacy profiles.

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Dept. of Urology and Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland VA Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-5046, USA.


The mechanism of action of the phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors (i.e., sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil) involves inhibition of the PDE5 isoenzyme located in penile vascular smooth muscle cells. Sexual stimulation triggers the release of nitric oxide (NO), stimulating the release of guanylyl cyclase, leading to an increase in intracellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) concentrations, a decrease in intracellular calcium, and ultimately relaxation of the vascular smooth muscle in the corpus cavernosum and penile erection. The PDE5 inhibitors have no effect on the penis in the absence of sexual stimulation. Although the various PDE5 inhibitors differ with respect to selectivity and pharmacokinetic profiles, efficacy and safety of these agents are comparable in broad populations of men with erectile dysfunction (ED), including those with diabetes or those taking multiple antihypertensive agents. The most frequently reported adverse events of the PDE5 inhibitors are related to their mild vasodilatory effects and include headache, flushing, dyspepsia, and nasal congestion or rhinitis. Side effects are generally reversible and tend to diminish during continued treatment. Differences in pharmacokinetic properties among the PDE5 inhibitors include the fact that sildenafil and vardenafil have a shorter duration of action (approximately 4 h) compared with the longer period of responsiveness observed with tadalafil (up to 36 h). In addition, in the presence of high-fat food, absorption of sildenafil and vardenafil may be delayed; however, the rate and extent of tadalafil absorption are unaffected by high-fat food.

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