Effects of tadalafil (PDE5 inhibitor) and roflumilast (PDE4 inhibitor) on airway reactivity and markers of inflammation in ovalbumin-induced airway hyperresponsiveness in guinea pigs

J Physiol Pharmacol. 2017 Oct;68(5):721-730.


Selective phosphodiesterase (PDE) 4 inhibitors have recently been introduced into the therapy of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, suppression of airway reactivity and eosinophilic inflammation by increased intracellular cAMP could be beneficial in bronchial asthma as well. PDE5 inhibitors are used for the therapy of erectile dysfunction, pulmonary hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases, but an expression of PDE5 in several immune cells suggests its perspectives in inflammation, as well. To bring a new information on the therapeutically relevant potential of PDE4 and PDE5 inhibitors in allergic inflammation, this study evaluated the effects of 7-days administration of PDE5 inhibitor tadalafil and PDE4 inhibitor roflumilast in experimentally-induced allergic inflammation and compared their action with effects of a corticosteroid dexamethasone. In the study, male adult guinea pigs were used. Control group was non-sensitized, while other animals were ovalbumin-sensitized over two weeks and thereafter treated intraperitoneally for 7 days with tadalafil or roflumilast (daily dose 1.0 mg/kg b.w. each), with their combination (0.5 mg/kg b.w. each), with dexamethasone (1.0 mg/kg b.w.), or with vehicle. Both tadalafil and roflumilast reduced the specific airway resistance after nebulization of histamine (a marker of in vivo airway reactivity), and decreased the in vitro airway reactivity to cumulative doses of histamine and acetylcholine in tracheal strips (significant for roflumilast) and in lung tissue strips (significant for both agents), analyzed by organ bath method. These changes were associated with decreased numbers of circulating leukocytes and eosinophils and lower production of interleukins 4 and 5, nuclear factor kappa B and tumor necrosis factor alpha in the lung. Similar effects were observed also for dexamethasone. Roflumilast and tadalafil, but not their combination with reduced doses, lowered lung TBARS, a marker of lipid oxidation. Selective PDE5 inhibition alleviated allergic airway inflammation, but it was less potent than PDE4 inhibition, whereas anti-inflammatory action of the PDE inhibitors was comparable to the effects of dexamethasone.

MeSH terms

  • Aminopyridines / pharmacology
  • Aminopyridines / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Benzamides / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cyclopropanes / pharmacology
  • Cyclopropanes / therapeutic use
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Inflammation Mediators / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Ovalbumin / toxicity
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Random Allocation
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / chemically induced
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / metabolism
  • Tadalafil / pharmacology
  • Tadalafil / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Aminopyridines
  • Benzamides
  • Biomarkers
  • Cyclopropanes
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors
  • Roflumilast
  • Tadalafil
  • Ovalbumin