• PDE5;
  • ER stress;
  • heart failure;
  • PKG

Background and Purpose

Inhibition of the cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) exerts profound beneficial effects on failing hearts. However, the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of PDE5 inhibition on heart failure are unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether PDE5 inhibition decreases endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, a key event in heart failure.

Experimental Approach

Heart failure was induced by isoprenaline s.c. injection in Sprague–Dawley rats and transverse aortic constriction (TAC) in mice. PDE5 was inhibited with sildenafil. Heart function was detected by invasive pressure–volume analysis and echocardiography. ER stress markers were analysed by Western blotting. Apoptosis was measured by flow cytometric analysis.

Key Results

PDE5 inhibition markedly attenuated isoprenaline-induced and TAC-induced cardiac hypertrophy and dysfunction, and reduced ER stress and apoptosis. Further, PDE5 inhibition with sildenafil largely prevented ER stress and reduced apoptosis in isoprenaline- or thapsigargin-treated cardiomyocytes. PKG inhibition markedly prevented the protective effects of sildenafil in vivo and in vitro. To further understand the mechanism of the effect of PDE5 inhibition on ER stress, we demonstrated that PDE5 inhibitor increased sarco-(endo)-plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase activity via phosphorylation of phospholamban at Ser16. This may contribute to the attenuation of ER stress induced by PDE5 inhibition.

Conclusion and Implications

These results suggest that PDE5 inhibition can attenuate ER stress and improve cardiac function in vivo and in vitro. Suppression of ER stress by inhibiting PDE5 may contribute to the therapeutic effects on heart failure.