Sildenafil stimulates the expression of gaseous monoxide-generating enzymes in vascular smooth muscle cells via distinct signaling pathways.

Research paper by Xiao-ming XM Liu, Kelly J KJ Peyton, Xinhui X Wang, William W Durante

Indexed on: 07 Aug '12Published on: 07 Aug '12Published in: Biochemical Pharmacology


Sildenafil is a cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor that augments cGMP accumulation following the activation of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC). In this study, we investigated whether sildenafil promotes the production of the sGC-stimulatory gases, carbon monoxide and nitric oxide, by stimulating the expression of the inducible isoforms of heme oxygenase (HO-1) and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Sildenafil increased HO-1 expression and potentiated cytokine-mediated expression of iNOS and NO synthesis by SMCs. The induction of HO-1 was unaffected by the sGC inhibitor 1H-(1,2,4)oxadiazolo[4,3-α]quinozalin-1-one (ODQ) or the protein kinase G inhibitor (8R,9S,11S)-(-)-2-methyl-9-methoxyl-9-methoxycarbonyl-8-methyl-2,3,9,10-tetrahydro-8,11-epoxy-1H,8H,11H-2,7b,11a-triazadibenzo(a,g)cyclocta9(cde)trinen-1-one (KT 5823). However, the sildenafil-mediated increase in HO-1 promoter activity was abolished by mutating the antioxidant responsive elements in the promoter or by overexpressing a dominant-negative mutant of NF-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2). Furthermore, the induction of HO-1 by sildenafil was accompanied by an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and blocked by N-acetyl-L-cysteine and rotenone. In contrast, the enhancement of cytokine-stimulated NO synthesis by sildenafil was prevented by ODQ and the protein kinase A inhibitor (9S,10S,12R)-2,3,9,10,11,12-hexahydro-10-hydroxy-9-methyl-1-oxo-9,12-epoxy-1H-diindolo(1,2,3-fg:3',2',1'-kl)pyrrolo(3,4-i)(1,6)benzodiazocine-10-carboxylic acid hexyl ester (KT 5720) and duplicated by lipophilic analogs of cGMP. In conclusion, these studies demonstrate that sildenafil stimulates the expression of HO-1 and iNOS via the ROS-Nrf2 and sGC-cGMP pathway, respectively. The ability of sildenafil to block the catabolism of cGMP while stimulating the synthesis of sGC-stimulatory gaseous monoxides through the induction of HO-1 and iNOS provides a potent mechanism by which cGMP-dependent vascular actions of this drug are amplified.