Therapeutic applications of sildenafil citrate in the management of paediatric pulmonary hypertension

Leah Leibovitch*, Ilan Matok, Gideon Paret

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Pulmonary hypertension is characterised by a progressive increase in pulmonary vascular resistance and a poor prognosis. The exact underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood; however, it is hypothesised that pulmonary medial hypertrophy and endothelial dysfunction lead to impaired production of vasodilators such as nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin, and increased expression of vasoconstrictors such as endothelin-1. The current treatment modalities for pulmonary hypertension include conventional supportive therapies and more specific pharmacological therapies that are targeted at abnormalities of endothelial function. NO and phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors induce pulmonary vasodilation by increasing intracellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) concentrations. Sildenafil citrate is a highly selective inhibitor of PDE5. Investigations in animal models and recent clinical case reports with some studies in the paediatric population suggest that sildenafil may be a promising agent in treating pulmonary hypertension. The effect of sildenafil on pulmonary vasculature appears to be independent of the underlying cause, thereby providing a role in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), PAH associated with congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension secondary to lung disease or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. It may also be beneficial in postoperative pulmonary hypertension and in neonates who are difficult to wean from inhaled NO. It is easily administered and effective, and has minimal systemic adverse effects. Although the reported results in children with pulmonary hypertension are promising, it is an experimental drug and large-scale randomised controlled studies are required to validate the safety, efficacy and dosage in the paediatric population.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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