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Curr Top Med Chem. 2007;7(4):437-54.

The novel functions of cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase 5 and its inhibitors in carcinoma cells and pulmonary/cardiovascular vessels.

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University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, Mobile, AL 36688, USA.


PDE5 is a key enzyme involved in the regulation of cGMP-specific signaling pathways in normal physiological processes such as smooth muscle contraction and relaxation. For this reason, inhibition of the enzyme can alter those pathophysiological conditions associated with a lowering cGMP level in tissues. For example, selective PDE5 inhibitors, such as sildenafil (Viagra, Pfizer), tadalafil (Cialis, Lilly-ICOS), and vardenafil (Levitra, Bayer), have been successfully used to treat the condition of human erectile dysfunction. More recently, the involvement of this enzyme has been proposed to influence antiproliferation and proapoptotic mechanism in multiple carcinomas. The data supporting this idea is based on increases in PDE5 activities in many carcinomas and the ability of PDE5 inhibitors such as exisulind and its analogs related to anticancer activities. Inhibition of PDE5 that results in sustained increases in [cGMP](i) are required to modify the process of apoptosis and mitotic arrest in those carcinoma cells with enhanced PDE5 expressions. Increases in PDE5 are also involved in contributing to the pathological changes in the pulmonary system resulting in hyper-proliferative remodeling of both smooth muscle and endothelium in models of pulmonary hypertension. For this reason, the use of PDE5 inhibitors in the treatment of human pulmonary hypertension has met with some success. The differences that we have previously noted in PDE isoenzymes in pulmonary arterial and microvascular endothelial cells may provide a more selective cellular strategy for use of such inhibitor. Additional studies on structure biology of these enzymes should lead to the development of agents with better cellular specificity than currently available drugs. Considering the enormous progress that has been made in the last few years, the future looks promising for agents affecting this enzyme and related systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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