A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging study of oral sildenafil citrate in treatment-naive children with pulmonary arterial hypertension

Robyn J Barst, D Dunbar Ivy, Guillermo Gaitan, Andras Szatmari, Andrzej Rudzinski, Alberto E Garcia, B K S Sastry, Tomas Pulido, Gary R Layton, Marjana Serdarevic-Pehar, David L Wessel
Circulation 2012 January 17, 125 (2): 324-34

BACKGROUND: Safe, effective therapy is needed for pediatric pulmonary arterial hypertension.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Children (n=235; weight ≥8 kg) were randomized to low-, medium-, or high-dose sildenafil or placebo orally 3 times daily for 16 weeks in the Sildenafil in Treatment-Naive Children, Aged 1-17 Years, With Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (STARTS-1) study. The primary comparison was percent change from baseline in peak oxygen consumption (PV(O(2))) for the 3 sildenafil doses combined versus placebo. Exercise testing was performed in 115 children able to exercise reliably; the study was powered for this population. Secondary end points (assessed in all patients) included hemodynamics and functional class. The estimated mean±SE percent change in PV(O(2)) for the 3 doses combined versus placebo was 7.7±4.0% (95% confidence interval, -0.2% to 15.6%; P=0.056). PV(O(2)), functional class, and hemodynamics improved with medium and high doses versus placebo; low-dose sildenafil was ineffective. Most adverse events were mild to moderate in severity. STARTS-1 completers could enter the STARTS-2 extension study; patients who received sildenafil in STARTS-1 continued the same dose, whereas placebo-treated patients were randomized to low-, medium-, or high-dose sildenafil. In STARTS-2 (ongoing), increased mortality was observed with higher doses.

CONCLUSIONS: Sixteen-week sildenafil monotherapy is well tolerated in pediatric pulmonary arterial hypertension. Percent change in PV(O(2)) for the 3 sildenafil doses combined was only marginally significant; however, PV(O(2)), functional class, and hemodynamic improvements with medium and high doses suggest efficacy with these doses. Combined with STARTS-2 data, the overall profile favors the medium dose. Further investigation is warranted to determine optimal dosing based on age and weight.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: Unique identifier: NCT00159913.

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