Sildenafil citrate and blood-pressure-lowering drugs: results of drug interaction studies with an organic nitrate and a calcium antagonist

D J Webb, S Freestone, M J Allen, G J Muirhead
American Journal of Cardiology 1999 March 4, 83 (5A): 21C-28C
Sildenafil, a selective inhibitor of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), is a well-tolerated and highly effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. The mechanism of action of sildenafil depends on activation of the nitric oxide (NO)-cGMP pathway during sexual stimulation, which results in corpus cavernosal smooth muscle relaxation and penile erection. Endogenously derived NO is also involved in blood pressure regulation through its effect on basal vascular tone, which is mediated by cGMP levels. Organic nitrates and NO donors exert their therapeutic effects on blood pressure and vascular smooth muscle by the same mechanism as endogenous NO. Since both sildenafil and organic nitrates exert their pharmacologic effects via increases in cGMP concentrations, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study was undertaken to investigate the effects of sildenafil coadministered with glyceryl trinitrate on blood pressure and heart rate in healthy male subjects. The hemodynamic effects of sildenafil were also evaluated in a second placebo-controlled crossover study in men with hypertension who were taking the calcium antagonist amlodipine, which has a mechanism of action that does not involve the cGMP pathway. In the first crossover study, subjects were treated with oral sildenafil (25 mg, 3 times a day for 4 days) or placebo and then challenged on day 4 with a 40-minute, stepwise, intravenous infusion of glyceryl trinitrate (0.5 mg/mL in 5% dextrose at an initial infusion rate of 2.5 microg/min and doubling every 5 minutes to a maximum rate of 40 microg/min) 1 hour after taking sildenafil or placebo. On day 5, subjects received a sublingual glyceryl trinitrate tablet (500 microg) 1 hour after taking 25 mg of sildenafil or placebo. During sildenafil treatment, the subjects were significantly less tolerant of intravenously administered glyceryl trinitrate than during placebo treatment, based on the occurrence of a >25 mm Hg decrease in blood pressure or the incidence of symptomatic hypotension (p <0.01). When a sublingual glyceryl trinitrate tablet was administered on day 5, a 4-fold greater decrease in systolic blood pressure was observed for the subjects during the sildenafil treatment period than during the placebo treatment period. The changes in heart rate were negligible during both glyceryl trinitrate challenges. In conclusion, sildenafil potentiated the hypotensive effects of glyceryl trinitrate, an organic nitrate. Thus, sildenafil administration to patients who are using organic nitrates, either regularly and/or intermittently, in any form is contraindicated. In the second crossover study, men with hypertension, who were taking 5 or 10 mg/day of amlodipine, received a single oral dose of 100 mg sildenafil or placebo. Coadministration of sildenafil did not significantly affect the pharmacokinetics of amlodipine. In the 4 hours after dosing, differences in the mean maximum change from baseline in supine systolic and diastolic blood pressures between the sildenafil plus amlodipine and the placebo plus amlodipine treatment periods were -8 mm Hg and -7 mm Hg, respectively (p < or =0.002). The mean maximum supine heart rate increased 2.1 beats/min during sildenafil plus amlodipine treatment and decreased 1.5 beats/min during placebo plus amlodipine treatment (p <0.02). The adverse events in this study were predominantly mild or moderate and did not cause discontinuation of treatment. Adverse events considered to be related to sildenafil treatment included headache, nausea, and dyspepsia. In patients with hypertension who were taking amlodipine therapy, sildenafil produced additive, but not synergistic, reductions in blood pressure. The difference in the mean maximum change from baseline in blood pressure between sildenafil plus amlodipine and placebo plus amlodipine was comparable to the decrease in blood pressure reported for healthy men taking sildenafil alone. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

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