Vardenafil and methylarginines in pulmonary hypertension

University dissertation from Umeå : Umeå universitet

Abstract: Background: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a rare condition characterized by endothelial dysfunction and vascular remodelling, leading to increased pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) and right ventricular heart failure. Endothelial dysfunction is associated with an imbalance between vasoconstrictor compounds, such as endothelin and thromboxane A2, and vasodilator compounds, such as prostacyclin and nitric oxide (NO). Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), a methyl derivate of L-arginine, inhibits synthesis of NO. Vardenafil, a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5-inhibitors), causes vasodilation through the NO/cGMP pathway.Aim: This thesis investigates the pharmacological effects and diagnostic utility of vardenafil in PH patients. In addition, to evaluate the change of L-arginine and dimethylarginines before and during PAHspecific therapy in PAH patients compared to patients with left ventricular heart failure (LVHF) and healthy subjects.Methods: The pharmacokinetics and hemodynamic effects of vardenafil were examined during right heart catheterization (RHC) in 16 PH patients and plasma concentrations were measured for up to nine hours after oral administration. In 20 PH patients, acute vasoreactivity test with vardenafil was performed during RHC. Hemodynamic responses were recorded, responders were defined and followed for up to seven years. Additionally, plasma ADMA, symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA), L-arginine, L-citrulline and L-ornithine levels before and after PAH drug treatment were monitored in 21 PAH patients and compared to values measured in 14 LVHF patients and 27 healthy subjects.Results: Vardenafil concentrations increased rapidly to maximum plasma concentration (tmax 1h) and elimination half-life was 3.4 h. Patients co-medicated with bosentan had reduced vardenafil concentration. Significant acute hemodynamic responses were observed for mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) (p<0.001), pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) (p<0.001), cardiac output (CO) (p=0.015), cardiac index (CI) (p=0.010), systemic vascular resistance (SVR) (p<0.001) and PVR/SVR (p=0.002) and were related to plasma vardenafil concentrations. PAH patients had significantly higher ADMA and SDMA levels and significantly lower L-arginine levels and L-arginine/ADMA ratio compared with healthy subjects (p<0.001). L-arginine was also lower in PAH patients compared to patients with LVHF (p<0.05). WHO functional class and six minutes walking distance (6MWD) correlated to Larginine and L-arginine/ADMA ratio in PAH at baseline (p<0.05). At follow-up, patients on mono- or combinationtherapy with endothelin receptor antagonists (ERA) had lower ADMA levels than patients without ERA (p<0.05). In contrast, patients on PDE5-inhibitors had higher ADMA levels compared to patients without PDE5-inhibitors (p<0.05).Conclusion: Vardenafil is safe in acute vasoreactivity test in PH patients. Cardiopulmonary hemodynamic response was related to plasma drug concentrations. There was a high inter-individual variability of vardenafil pharmacokinetics and co-medication with bosentan caused a pharmacokinetic drug interaction. Baseline L-arginine and dimethylarginines levels were different in PAH patients compared to LVHF patients and healthy controls. PAH-specific treatment influenced L-arginine and dimethylarginines. Our data suggest that L-arginine might be useful for differentiating PAH from LVHF, and L-arginine/ADMA ratios were related to the severity of PAH and might be useful for follow-up evaluations of PAH patients.