Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitors in Men With Erectile Dysfunction and the Risk of Alzheimer Disease: A Cohort Study

Neurology. 2024 Feb 27;102(4):e209131. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000209131. Epub 2024 Feb 7.


Background and objectives: Repurposing phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5Is) as drugs for Alzheimer disease (AD) risk reduction has shown promise based on animal studies. However, evidence in humans remains inconclusive. Therefore, we conducted a cohort study to evaluate the association between PDE5I initiation compared with nonuse and the risk of developing AD in men with erectile dysfunction (ED).

Methods: Using electronic health records from IQVIA Medical Research Data UK (formerly known as the THIN database), we identified men aged ≥40 years with a new diagnosis of ED between 2000 and 2017. Individuals with a previous diagnosis of dementia, cognitive impairment, confusion, or prescription for dementia symptoms were excluded. The occurrence of incident AD was identified using diagnostic read codes. To minimize immortal-time bias, PDE5I initiation was treated as a time-varying exposure variable. Potential confounders were adjusted using inverse probability of treatment weighting based on propensity scores. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate the adjusted hazard ratio (HR) with 95% CIs. A secondary analysis explored the association between AD and the cumulative number of PDE5I prescriptions. Sensitivity analyses included lag (delay) periods of 1 and 3 years after cohort entry to address the prodromal stage of AD.

Results: The study included 269,725 men, with 1,119 newly diagnosed with AD during a median follow-up of 5.1 (interquartile range 2.9-8.9) years. The adjusted HR in PDE5I initiators compared with nonuse was 0.82 (95% CI 0.72-0.93). The associated risk of AD decreased in individuals issued >20 prescriptions: HR 0.56 (95% CI 0.43-0.73) for 21-50 prescriptions and HR 0.65 (95% CI 0.49-0.87) for >50 prescriptions. Sensitivity analysis with a 1-year lag period supported the primary findings (HR 0.82, 95% CI 0.72-0.94), but the results differed with the inclusion of a 3-year lag period (HR 0.93, 95% CI 0.80-1.08).

Discussion: PDE5I initiation in men with ED was associated with a lower risk of AD, particularly in those most frequently issued prescriptions. The differences between primary and sensitivity analyses highlight the need to explore the optimal lag period. To enhance the generalizability of our findings, a randomized controlled trial including both sexes and exploring various PDE5I doses would be beneficial to confirm the association between PDE5I and AD.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease* / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Erectile Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Erectile Dysfunction* / drug therapy
  • Erectile Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors