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Testosterone and phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors: new strategy for preventing endothelial damage in internal and sexual medicine?

Dip.to Fisiopatologia Medica, Room 37, Viale Policlinico 155, 00161 Rome Italy.
Therapeutic Advances in Urology 10/2009; 1(4):179-97. DOI: 10.1177/1756287209344992
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Normal vascular endothelium is essential for the synthesis and release of substances affecting vascular tone (e.g. nitric oxide; NO), cell adhesion (e.g. endothelins, interleukins), and the homeostasis of clotting and fibrinolysis (e.g. plasminogen inhibitors, von Willebrand factor). The degeneration of endothelial integrity promotes adverse events (AEs) leading to increased atherogenesis and to the development of vascular systemic and penile end-organ disease. Testosterone (T) is an important player in the regulation of vascular tone through non-genomic actions exerted via blockade of extracellular-calcium entry or activation of potassium channels; also, adequate T concentrations are paramount for the regulation of phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) expression and finally, for the actions exerted by hydrogen sulphide, a gas involved in the alternative pathway controlling vasodilator responses in penile tissue. It is known that an age-related decline of serum T is reported in approximately 20 to 30% of men whereas T deficiency is reported in up to 50% of men with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. A number of laboratory and human studies have shown the combination of T and other treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED), such as PDE5 inhibitors, to be more beneficial in patients with ED and hypogonadism, who fail monotherapy for sexual disturbances.The aim of this review is to show evidence on the role of T and PDE5 inhibitors, alone or in combination, as potential boosters of endothelial function in internal medicine diseases associated with reduced T or NO bioavailability, i.e. metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease, hyperhomocysteinemia, that share common risk factors with ED. Furthermore, the possibility of such a strategy to prevent endothelial dysfunction in men at increased cardiovascular risk is discussed.

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