Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors: Novel therapeutic agents for progressive renal disease

Jingfei Cheng, Joseph P. Grande

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Cyclic nucleotides are recognized as critical mediators of many renal functions, including solute transport, regulation of vascular tone, proliferation of parenchymal cells, and inflammation. Although most studies have linked elevated cAMP levels to activation of protein kinase A, cAMP can also directly activate cyclic nucleotide gated ion channels and can signal through activation of GTP exchange factors. Cyclic AMP signaling is highly compartmentalized through plasma membrane localization of adenylyl cyclase and expression of scaffolding proteins that anchor protein kinase A to specific intracellular locations. Cyclic nucleotide levels are largely regulated through catabolic processes directed by phosphodiesterases (PDEs). The PDE superfamily is large and complex, with over 60 distinct isoforms that preferentially hydrolyze cAMP, cGMP, or both. PDEs contribute to compartmentalized cyclic nucleotide signaling. The unique cell- and tissue-specific distribution of PDEs has prompted the development of highly specific PDE inhibitors to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions. In experimental systems, PDE inhibitors have been employed to demonstrate functional compartmentalization of cyclic nucleotide signaling in the kidney. For example, mitogenesis in glomerular mesangial cells and normal tubular epithelial cells is negatively regulated by an intracellular pool of cAMP that is metabolized by PDE3, but not by other PDEs. In Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, an in vitro model of polycystic kidney disease, an intracellular pool of cAMP directed by PDE3 stimulates mitogenesis. In mesangial cells, an intracellular pool of cAMP directed by PDE4 inhibits reactive oxygen species and expression of the potent proinflammatory cytokine monocyte chemoattractant protein 1. An intracellular pool of cGMP directed by PDE5 regulates solute transport. PDE5 inhibitors ameliorate renal injury in a chronic renal disease model. In this overview, we highlight recent studies to define relationships between PDE expression and renal function and to provide evidence that PDE inhibitors may be effective agents in treating chronic renal disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-51
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Phosphodiesterase
  • Progressive renal disease
  • cAMP
  • cGMP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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