Phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) is a key enzyme in the degradation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate and is centrally involved in the cytokine production of inflammatory cells, angiogenesis, and the functional properties of other cell types such as keratinocytes. In this review article, apremilast, a novel small molecule inhibitor of PDE4, is introduced. Apremilast has profound anti-inflammatory properties in animal models of inflammatory disease, as well as human chronic inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Apremilast blocks the synthesis of several pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 23, CXCL9, and CXCL10 in multiple cell types. In contrast to the biologics, which neutralize pro-inflammatory mediators at the protein level, apremilast modulates production of these mediators at the level of mRNA expression. Apremilast also interferes with the production of leukotriene B4, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and matrix metalloproteinase and reduces complex inflammatory processes, such as dendritic cell infiltration, epidermal skin thickening, and joint destruction. As this novel PDE4 inhibitor interferes with several key processes of inflammation, it may emerge as a promising new drug for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases such as those of the skin and the joints.
Keywords: apremilast; cyclic adenosine monophosphate; phosphodiesterase 4; psoriasis; psoriatic arthritis.