Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) superfamily: a new target for the development of specific therapeutic agents

Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Mar;109(3):366-98. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2005.07.003. Epub 2005 Aug 15.


Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs), which are ubiquitously distributed in mammalian tissues, play a major role in cell signaling by hydrolyzing cAMP and cGMP. Due to their diversity, which allows specific distribution at cellular and subcellular levels, PDEs can selectively regulate various cellular functions. Their critical role in intracellular signaling has recently designated them as new therapeutic targets for inflammation. The PDE superfamily represents 11 gene families (PDE1 to PDE11). Each family encompasses 1 to 4 distinct genes, to give more than 20 genes in mammals encoding the more than 50 different PDE proteins probably produced in mammalian cells. Although PDE1 to PDE6 were the first well-characterized isoforms because of their predominance in various tissues and cells, their specific contribution to tissue function and their regulation in pathophysiology remain open research fields. This concerns particularly the newly discovered families, PDE7 to PDE11, for which roles are not yet established. In many pathologies, such as inflammation, neurodegeneration, and cancer, alterations in intracellular signaling related to PDE deregulation may explain the difficulties observed in the prevention and treatment of these pathologies. By inhibiting specifically the up-regulated PDE isozyme(s) with newly synthesized potent and isozyme-selective PDE inhibitors, it may be potentially possible to restore normal intracellular signaling selectively, providing therapy with reduced adverse effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / metabolism*


  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases
  • Cyclic GMP