Nebulized sildenafil is a selective pulmonary vasodilator in lambs with acute pulmonary hypertension

Crit Care Med. 2001 May;29(5):1000-5. doi: 10.1097/00003246-200105000-00024.


Objective: To determine whether inhalation of aerosolized sildenafil with and without inhaled nitric oxide (NO) causes selective pulmonary vasodilation in a sheep model of pulmonary hypertension.

Design: A controlled laboratory study in instrumented, awake, spontaneously breathing lambs.

Setting: Animal research laboratory affiliated with a university hospital.

Subject: Twenty Suffolk lambs.

Interventions: Lambs were instrumented with a carotid artery catheter, a pulmonary artery catheter, and a tracheostomy tube and studied awake. After baseline measurements, pulmonary hypertension was induced by the continuous infusion of U46619, a thromboxane A2 analog. After breathing three concentrations of inhaled NO (2, 5, and 20 ppm), lambs were divided into two groups. Group 1 (n = 7) breathed aerosols containing 1, 10, and 30 mg of sildenafil alone, and group 2 (n = 4) simultaneously breathed NO (2 and 5 ppm) and aerosols containing 10 mg of sildenafil. Hemodynamic measurements were obtained before and at the end of each drug administration. Venous admixture was calculated, and plasma cyclic guanosine monophosphate and sildenafil concentrations were measured.

Measurements and main results: Aerosols containing 10 mg and 30 mg of sildenafil selectively decreased the pulmonary artery pressure by 21% +/- 3% and 26% +/- 3%, respectively (p < .05 vs. baseline pulmonary hypertension). When 10 mg of sildenafil was inhaled while simultaneously breathing 2 ppm and 5 ppm NO, the pulmonary artery pressure decreased by 35% +/- 3% and 43% +/- 2% (p < .05 vs. baseline pulmonary hypertension). Inhaled sildenafil did not impair systemic oxygenation, increase right-to-left intrapulmonary shunting, or impair the ability of inhaled NO to reduce right-to-left shunting.

Conclusions: Nebulized sildenafil is a selective pulmonary vasodilator that can potentiate the pulmonary vasodilating effects of inhaled NO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Nitric Oxide / pharmacology
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / blood
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Piperazines / blood
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / drug effects
  • Purines
  • Sheep
  • Sildenafil Citrate
  • Sulfones
  • Vasodilation / drug effects*


  • Aerosols
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Piperazines
  • Purines
  • Sulfones
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Sildenafil Citrate