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Phosphodiesterases are a diverse family of enzymes that hydrolyse cyclic nucleotides and thus play a key role in regulating intracellular levels of the second messengers cAMP and cGMP, and hence cell function. Theophylline and papaverine have historically been used therapeutically and are known to be weak inhibitors of PDE, but to what extent this contributed toward their clinical efficacy was poorly defined. However, the discovery of 11 isoenzyme families and our increased understanding of their function at the cell and molecular level provides an impetus for the development of isoenzyme selective inhibitors for the treatment of various diseases. This review focuses on the development of PDE3 inhibitors for congestive heart failure, PDE4 inhibitors for inflammatory airways disease and most successfully, PDE5 inhibitors for erectile dysfunction.


Victoria Boswell-Smith, Domenico Spina, Clive P Page. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors. British journal of pharmacology. 2006 Jan;147 Suppl 1:S252-7

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PMID: 16402111

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