Endophenotype-based in silico network medicine discovery combined with insurance record data mining identifies sildenafil as a candidate drug for Alzheimer's disease

Nat Aging. 2021 Dec;1(12):1175-1188. doi: 10.1038/s43587-021-00138-z. Epub 2021 Dec 6.

Abstract

We developed an endophenotype disease module-based methodology for Alzheimer's disease (AD) drug repurposing and identified sildenafil as a potential disease risk modifier. Based on retrospective case-control pharmacoepidemiologic analyses of insurance claims data for 7.23 million individuals, we found that sildenafil usage was significantly associated with a 69% reduced risk of AD (hazard ratio = 0.31, 95% confidence interval 0.25-0.39, P<1.0×10-8). Propensity score stratified analyses confirmed that sildenafil is significantly associated with a decreased risk of AD across all four drug cohorts we tested (diltiazem, glimepiride, losartan and metformin) after adjusting age, sex, race, and disease comorbidities. We also found that sildenafil increases neurite growth and decreases phospho-tau expression in AD patient-induced pluripotent stem cells-derived neuron models, supporting mechanistically its potential beneficial effect in Alzheimer's disease. The association between sildenafil use and decreased incidence of AD does not establish causality or its direction, which requires a randomized clinical trial approach.