Soluble Guanylate Cyclase Stimulators and Activators: Novel Therapies for Pulmonary Vascular Disease or a Different Method of Increasing cGMP?

Cody Koress, Kevin Swan, Philip Kadowitz
Current Hypertension Reports 2016, 18 (5): 42
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressively worsening disorder characterized by increased pulmonary vascular resistance leading to increased afterload, right ventricular hypertrophy, and ultimately right heart failure and death. Current pharmacologic treatments primarily act to reduce pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) and provide some benefit but do not cure PAH. Canonical vasodilator therapy involving the nitric oxide (NO)-soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC)-cGMP pathway has demonstrated efficacy, but in pathologic states, endothelial dysfunction within the pulmonary vasculature leads to the reduced synthesis and bioavailability of NO. Acting downstream of NO, sGC stimulators and activators restore the endogenous functions of NO and exploit the positive effects of sGC stimulation on various organ systems, including the heart. Riociguat (BAY 63-2521) is the first agent in a class of sGC stimulators to receive FDA approval for the treatment of PAH and chronic thromboembolic hypertension (CTEPH). Riociguat has demonstrated significant benefit as assessed by 6MWD, PVR, N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) levels, time to clinical worsening, World Health Organization (WHO) functional class, and other quality of life measures in clinical trials as a monotherapy and in combination with endothelin receptor antagonists or non-intravenous prostanoids. Riociguat is the first FDA-approved treatment option for inoperable or persistent CTEPH and adds a new effective drug to available treatment options for pulmonary hypertension (PH). The question of whether riociguat is superior to other available treatment options is unanswered at the present time and requires further study.

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