Treatment With Sildenafil Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Prediabetes: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Dec;100(12):4533-40. doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-3415. Epub 2015 Nov 18.


Context: Sildenafil increases insulin sensitivity in mice. In humans, phosphodiesterase 5 inhibition improves disposition index, but the mechanism of this effect has not been elucidated and may depend on duration. In addition, increasing cyclic GMP without increasing nitric oxide could have beneficial effects on fibrinolytic balance.

Objective: The objective was to test the hypothesis that chronic phosphodiesterase 5 inhibition with sildenafil improves insulin sensitivity and secretion without diminishing fibrinolytic function.

Design: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Setting: This trial was conducted at Vanderbilt Clinical Research Center.

Participants: Participants included overweight individuals with prediabetes.

Interventions: Subjects were randomized to treatment with sildenafil 25 mg three times a day or matching placebo for 3 months. Subjects underwent a hyperglycemic clamp prior to and at the end of treatment.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcomes of the study were insulin sensitivity and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion.

Result: Twenty-one subjects completed each treatment arm. After 3 months, the insulin sensitivity index was significantly greater in the sildenafil group compared to the placebo group by 1.84 mg/kg/min per μU/mL*100 (95% confidence interval, 0.01 to 3.67 mg/kg/min per μU/mL*100; P = .049), after adjusting for baseline insulin sensitivity index and body mass index. In contrast, there was no effect of 3-month treatment with sildenafil on acute- or late-phase glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (P > .30). Sildenafil decreased plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (P = .01), without altering tissue-plasminogen activator. In contrast to placebo, sildenafil also decreased the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio from 12.67 ± 14.67 to 6.84 ± 4.86 μg/mg Cr. This effect persisted 3 months after sildenafil discontinuation.

Conclusions: Three-month phosphodiesterase 5 inhibition enhances insulin sensitivity and improves markers of endothelial function.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuminuria / prevention & control
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fibrinolysis / drug effects
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / complications
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / metabolism
  • Prediabetic State / drug therapy*
  • Prediabetic State / physiopathology
  • Sildenafil Citrate / therapeutic use*


  • Insulin
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • Sildenafil Citrate
  • Glucose