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Potency, selectivity, and consequences of nonselectivity of PDE inhibition


Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) play a decisive role in cyclic nucleotide-mediated intracellular signaling. As PDEs are expressed in a variety of tissues, selectivity is a prerequisite for a therapeutically applicable PDE inhibitor. Sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil are selective for PDE5, with vardenafil exhibiting the highest potency and minimal inhibition of other PDEs, with the exception of PDE6. Tadalafil is extremely selective for PDE5, but also potently inhibits PDE11, an enzyme with unknown physiological function. As PDE1 is expressed in the brain, myocardium, and vascular smooth muscle cells, nonselectivity with respect to this enzyme (selectivity: tadalafil>vardenafil>sildenafil) may result in vasodilation and tachycardia. Inhibition of PDE6 (selectivity: tadalafil>vardenafilsildenafil), which is expressed only in retina and functions in visual transduction, can transiently disturb vision. PDE5 inhibitors may also indirectly inhibit PDE3 by increasing cyclic guanosine monophospate levels, thereby elevating heart rate and vasodilation while inhibiting platelet aggregation.

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Correspondence to E Bischoff.

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Bischoff, E. Potency, selectivity, and consequences of nonselectivity of PDE inhibition. Int J Impot Res 16, S11–S14 (2004).

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  • phosphodiesterase inhibitors
  • 3′,5′-cyclic-nucleotide phosphodiesterase
  • sildenafil
  • vardenafil
  • tadalafil

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