Drugs

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 57–73 | Cite as

Therapeutic Applications of Sildenafil Citrate in the Management of Paediatric Pulmonary Hypertension

Review Article

Abstract

Pulmonary hypertension is characterised by a progressive increase in pulmonary vascular resistance and a poor prognosis. The exact underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood; however, it is hypothesised that pulmonary medial hypertrophy and endothelial dysfunction lead to impaired production of vasodilators such as nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin, and increased expression of vasoconstrictors such as endothelin-1. The current treatment modalities for pulmonary hypertension include conventional supportive therapies and more specific pharmacological therapies that are targeted at abnormalities of endothelial function. NO and phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors induce pulmonary vasodilation by increasing intracellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) concentrations.

Sildenafil citrate is a highly selective inhibitor of PDE5. Investigations in animal models and recent clinical case reports with some studies in the paediatric population suggest that sildenafil may be a promising agent in treating pulmonary hypertension. The effect of sildenafil on pulmonary vasculature appears to be independent of the underlying cause, thereby providing a role in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), PAH associated with congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension secondary to lung disease or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. It may also be beneficial in postoperative pulmonary hypertension and in neonates who are difficult to wean from inhaled NO. It is easily administered and effective, and has minimal systemic adverse effects. Although the reported results in children with pulmonary hypertension are promising, it is an experimental drug and large-scale randomised controlled studies are required to validate the safety, efficacy and dosage in the paediatric population.

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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatric Critical CareSafra Children’s Hospital, The Chaim Sheba Medical CenterTel-HashomerIsrael
  2. 2.Sackler Faculty of MedicineTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  3. 3.Division of Neonatology and Developmental Biology, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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