The modulating effect of sildenafil on cell viability and on the function of selected pharmacological receptors in cell cultures
Eager, Blenerhassit Edward
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Since sildenafil's (Viagra®), a phospodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor, approval for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction (MED) in the United States early 1998, 274 adverse event reports were filed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 4 Jan. 1998 and 21 Feb. 2001 with sildenafil as the primary suspect of various neurological disturbances, including amnesia and aggressive behaviour (Milman and Arnold, 2002). These and other research findings have prompted investigations into the possible central effects of sildenafil. The G protein-coupled muscarinic adetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) and serotonergic receptors (5HT-Rs), have been linked to antidepressant action (Brink et al. 2004). GPCRs signal through the phosphatidylinositol signal transduction pathway known to activate protein kinases (PKs). Since the nitric oxide (NO)-guanylyl cyclase signal transduction pathway is also known to involve the activation of PKs (via cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)), the scope is opened for sildenafil to possibly modulate the action of antidepressants by elevating cGMP levels. It is generally assumed that excitotoxic delayed cell death is pathologically linked to an increase in the release of excitatory neurotransmitters e.g. glutamate. Glutamate antagonists, especially those that block the define NMDA-receptors, are neuroprotective, showing the importance of the NMDA-NO-cGMP pathway in neuroprotection (Brandt et al., 2003). Sildenafil may play a role in neuroprotection by elevating cGMP levels. Aims: The aims of the study were to investigate any neuroprotective properties of sildenafil, as well as modulating effects of sildenafil pre-treatment on mAChR function. Methods: Human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y or human epithelial HeLa cells were seeded in 24-well plates and pre-treated for 24 hours in serum-free medium with no drug (control), PDE5 inhibitors sildenafil (100nM and 450 nM), dipiridamole (20 µM) or zaprinast (20 µM), non-selective PDE inhibitor 3-isobutyl-I-methylxanthine (IBMX - ImM), cGMP analogue N2,2'-0-dibutyrylguanosine 3'5'-cyclic monophosphate sodium salt (500 µM), guanylcyclase inhibitor 1H-[1 ,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-I-one (ODQ - 3 µM) or sildenafil + ODQ (450 nM and 3 µM respectively). Thereafter cells were used to determine mAChR function by constructing dose-response curves of methacholine or to determine cell viability utilising the Trypan blue, propidium iodide and MTT tests for cell viability. Results: Sildenafil pre-treatments induced a 2.5-fold increase in ,the Emax value of methacholine in neuronal cells but did not show a significant increase in epithelial cells The Trypan blue test suggests that neither the PDE5 inhibitors nor a cGMP analogue show any neuroprotection. Rather, sildenafil 450 nM, dipiridamole and IBMX displayed a neurodegenerative effect. The MTT test was not suitable, since pre-treatment with the abovementioned drugs inhibited the formation of forrnazan. The propidium iodide assay could also not be used, due to severe cell loss. Conclusion: Sildenafil upregulates mAChR function in SH-SY5Y cells and displays a neurodegenerative, and not a protective property, in neuronal cells. This is not likely to be associated with its PDE5 inhibitory action, but may possibly be linked to an increase in cGMP levels via the NO-cGMP pathway.
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