Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor mirodenafil ameliorates Alzheimer-like pathology and symptoms by multimodal actions

Byung Woo Kang, Fred Kim, Joon Yong Cho, Sang Yun Kim, Jinseol Rhee, Jai Jun Choung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology is associated with complex interactions among multiple factors, involving an intertwined network of various signaling pathways. The polypharmacological approach is an emerging therapeutic strategy that has been proposed to overcome the multifactorial nature of AD by targeting multiple pathophysiological factors including amyloid-β (Aβ) and phosphorylated tau. We evaluated a blood-brain barrier penetrating phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitor, mirodenafil (5-ethyl-2-7-n-propyl-3,5-dihydrro-4H-pyrrolo[3,2-d]pyrimidin-4-one), for its therapeutic effects on AD with polypharmacological properties. Methods: To evaluate the potential of mirodenafil as a disease-modifying AD agent, mirodenafil was administered to test its effects on the cognitive behaviors of the APP-C105 AD mouse model using the Morris water maze and passive avoidance tests. To investigate the mechanisms of action that underlie the beneficial disease-modifying effects of mirodenafil, human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells and mouse hippocampal HT-22 cells were used to show mirodenafil-induced alterations associated with the cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)/cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG)/cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (CREB) pathway, apoptotic cell death, tau phosphorylation, amyloidogenesis, the autophagy-lysosome pathway, glucocorticoid receptor (GR) transcriptional activity, and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Results: Here, mirodenafil is demonstrated to improve cognitive behavior in the APP-C105 mouse model. Mirodenafil not only reduced the Aβ and phosphorylated tau burdens in vivo, but also ameliorated AD pathology induced by Aβ through the modulation of the cGMP/PKG/CREB signaling pathway, glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) activity, GR transcriptional activity, and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling in neuronal cells. Interestingly, homodimerization and nuclear localization of GR were inhibited by mirodenafil, but not by other PDE5 inhibitors. In addition, only mirodenafil reduced the expression levels of the Wnt antagonist Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1), thus activating the Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Conclusions: These findings strongly suggest that the PDE5 inhibitor mirodenafil shows promise as a potential polypharmacological drug candidate for AD treatment, acting on multiple key signaling pathways involved in amyloid deposition, phosphorylated tau burden, the cGMP/PKG/CREB pathway, GSK-3β kinase activity, GR signaling, and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Mirodenafil administration to the APP-C105 AD mouse model also improved cognitive behavior, demonstrating the potential of mirodenafil as a polypharmacological AD therapeutic agent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number92
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyloid-β
  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Dickkopf-1
  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • Mirodenafil
  • Phosphodiesterase 5
  • Wnt/β-catenin
  • tau


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