Dual PDE3/4 and PDE4 inhibitors: novel treatments for COPD and other inflammatory airway diseases

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2014 May;114(5):365-76. doi: 10.1111/bcpt.12209. Epub 2014 Mar 6.


Selective phosphodiesterase (PDE) 4 and dual PDE3/4 inhibitors have attracted considerable interest as potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of respiratory diseases, largely by virtue of their anti-inflammatory (PDE4) and bifunctional bronchodilator/anti-inflammatory (PDE3/4) effects. Many of these agents have, however, failed in early development for various reasons, including dose-limiting side effects when administered orally and lack of sufficient activity when inhaled. Indeed, only one selective PDE4 inhibitor, the orally active roflumilast-n-oxide, has to date received marketing authorization. The majority of the compounds that have failed were, however, orally administered and non-selective for either PDE3 (A,B) or PDE4 (A,B,C,D) subtypes. Developing an inhaled dual PDE3/4 inhibitor that is rapidly cleared from the systemic circulation, potentially with subtype specificity, may represent one strategy to improve the therapeutic index and also exhibit enhanced efficacy versus inhibition of either PDE3 or PDE4 alone, given the potential positive interactions with regard to anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator effects that have been observed pre-clinically with dual inhibition of PDE3 and PDE4 compared with inhibition of either isozyme alone. This MiniReview will summarize recent clinical data obtained with PDE inhibitors and the potential for these drugs to treat COPD and other inflammatory airways diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bronchodilator Agents / pharmacology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 3 / drug effects
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 3 / metabolism
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4 / drug effects
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / enzymology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Phosphodiesterase 3 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / enzymology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / enzymology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Phosphodiesterase 3 Inhibitors
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 3
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4