Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a debilitating disease with a poor prognosis. Therapeutic options remain limited despite the introduction of prostacyclin analogues, endothelin receptor antagonists and phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors within the last 15 years; these interventions address predominantly the endothelial and vascular dysfunctionS associated with the condition, but simply delay progression of the disease rather than offer a cure. In an attempt to improve efficacy, emerging approaches have focused on targeting the pro-proliferative phenotype that underpins the pulmonary vascular remodelling in the lung and contributes to the impaired circulation and right heart failure. Many novel targets have been investigated and validated in animal models of PH, including modulation of guanylate cyclases, phosphodiesterases, tyrosine kinases, Rho kinase, bone morphogenetic proteins signalling, 5-HT, peroxisome proliferator activator receptors and ion channels. In addition, there is hope that combinations of such treatments, harnessing and optimizing vasodilator and anti-proliferative properties, will provide a further, possibly synergistic, increase in efficacy; therapies directed at the right heart may also offer an additional benefit. This overview highlights current therapeutic options, promising new therapies, and provides the rationale for a combination approach to treat the disease.
© 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.