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Combination therapy with topical alprostadil and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors after failure of oral therapy in patients with erectile dysfunction: a prospective, two-arm, open-label, non-randomized study

Abstract

Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5Is) are the first-line therapeutic option for erectile dysfunction (ED), while second-line therapy includes the alprostadil. Due to the different pharmacodynamic mechanism of PDE5Is and alprostadil, a synergistic action is conceivable when they are administered in combination. The aim of present study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of combination therapy with PDE5I and topical alprostadil in patients with ED non-responders to PDE5I alone. We designed a prospective, two-arm, open-label, non-randomized study. Patients over 18 years old, with a stable sexual relationship for at least 6 months, and ED non-responders to PDE5I monotherapy were included in the study. At baseline the variables assessed were 5-item version of the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5), and Sexual Encounter Profile Questions 2 and 3 (SEP-2 and SEP-3). In addition, all subjects underwent penile dynamic duplex ultrasonography. All patients were assigned to the monotherapy group (Group A) or combination therapy group (Group B) based on their preference. Topical alprostadil 300 μg/100 mg (Virirec®) was the treatment assigned to Group A, while the combination therapy with the last PDE5I taken (at the maximum recommended dose) plus topical alprostadil 300 μg/100 mg (Virirec®) was assigned to Group B. After 3 months from assignment to groups were evaluated IIEF-5, SEP-2 and SEP-3 regarding the last sexual intercourse, and Global Assessment Questionnaire-Questions 1 and 2 (GAQ-1 and GAQ-2). All adverse events (AEs) that occurred during the study period were recorded. A total of 170 patients were included in the study (72 in Group A and 98 in Group B). Fifty-two patients were previously treated with sildenafil 100 mg (30.6%), 6 with vardenafil 20 mg (3.5%), 56 with tadalafil 20 mg (32.9%), and 56 with avanafil 200 mg (32.9%). No significant differences among the study groups were found at baseline (p > 0.05). The mean IIEF-5 score increased significantly in Group B after treatment compared to baseline (12.4 ± 3.4 vs. 17.1 ± 4.5; p < 0.001), conversely patients in Group A showed no significant increase (12.2 ± 2.5 vs. 12.7 ± 3.1; p = 0.148). The number of affirmative responses to SEP-2 was significantly higher after treatment compared to baseline only in Group B (57 vs. 78; p < 0.001). The number of affirmative responses to SEP-3 was significantly higher after treatment compared to baseline in both groups (p < 0.001). The number of affirmative responses to GAQ-Q1 and GAQ-Q2 was significantly higher in Group B compared to Group A (p < 0.001). A total of 59 (34.7%) patients experienced AEs. They were mild, self-limited, and did not cause discontinuation of treatment. No episode of priapism was recorded. No statistically significant difference was recorded between the AEs of the two groups, except for facial flushing that was reported only in Group B (p = 0.021). The combination therapy with topical alprostadil and PDE5I seems to be more effective than topical alprostadil alone without worsening the safety of the treatment.

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Fig. 1: Molecular mechanism of action of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and alprostadil.
Fig. 2: Effects of treatments on the IIEF-5 score (baseline vs. after treatment).

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Garrido-Abad, P., Senra-Bravo, I., Manfredi, C. et al. Combination therapy with topical alprostadil and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors after failure of oral therapy in patients with erectile dysfunction: a prospective, two-arm, open-label, non-randomized study. Int J Impot Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41443-020-00400-9

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