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Journal of Alzheimer's Disease Reports

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Alzheimer’s Disease -- Treatment


Nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) signaling is compromised in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), which degrades cGMP, is upregulated. Sildenafil inhibits PDE5 and increases cGMP levels. Integrating previous findings, we determine that most doses of sildenafil (especially low doses) likely activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α (PGC1α) via protein kinase G-mediated cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation and/or Sirtuin-1 activation and PGC1α deacetylation. Via PGC1α signaling, low-dose sildenafil likely suppresses β-secretase 1 expression and amyloid-β (Aβ) generation, upregulates antioxidant enzymes, and induces mitochondrial biogenesis. Plus, sildenafil should increase brain perfusion, insulin sensitivity, long-term potentiation, and neurogenesis while suppressing neural apoptosis and inflammation. A systematic review of sildenafil in AD was undertaken. In vitro, sildenafil protected neural mitochondria from Aβ and advanced glycation end products. In transgenic AD mice, sildenafil was found to rescue deficits in CREB phosphorylation and memory, upregulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor, reduce reactive astrocytes and microglia, decrease interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α, decrease neural apoptosis, increase neurogenesis, and reduce tau hyperphosphorylation. All studies that tested Aβ levels reported significant improvements except the two that used the highest dosage, consistent with the dose-limiting effect of cGMP-induced phosphodiesterase 2 (PDE2) activation and cAMP depletion on PGC1α signaling. In AD patients, a single dose of sildenafil decreased spontaneous neural activity, increased cerebral blood flow, and increased the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen. A randomized control trial of sildenafil (ideally with a PDE2 inhibitor) in AD patients is warranted.


© 2020 by the authors. Licensee: IOS Press.

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