Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is associated with endothelial dysfunction, characterized by a reduction of nitric oxide (NO)-mediated relaxation. Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5i) improve NO levels. The aim of the study was to investigate whether long-term, chronic treatment with the PDE5i vardenafil improves systemic endothelial function in diabetic men.
A prospective, investigator-initiated, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial was conducted.
In total, 54 male patients affected by T2DM, diagnosed within the last 5 years, and erectile dysfunction were enrolled, regardless of testosterone levels. In all, 26 and 28 patients were assigned to verum and placebo groups respectively. The study consisted of an enrollment phase, a treatment phase (24 weeks) (vardenafil/placebo 10 mg twice in a day) and a follow-up phase (24 weeks). Parameters evaluated were as follows: International Index of Erectile Function 15 (IIEF-15), flow-mediated dilation (FMD), serum interleukin 6 (IL6), endothelin 1 (ET-1), gonadotropins and testosterone (measured by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry).
IIEF-15 erectile function improved during the treatment (P<0.001). At the end of the treatment both FMD (P=0.040) and IL6 (P=0.019) significantly improved. FMD correlated with serum testosterone levels (R 2=0.299; P<0.001). Testosterone increased significantly under vardenafil treatment and returned in the eugonadal range only in hypogonadal men (n=13), without changes in gonadotropins. Chronic vardenafil treatment did not result in relevant side effects.
This is the first double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to evaluate the effects of chronic treatment of vardenafil on endothelial health-related parameters and sexual hormones in patients affected by a chronic disease. Chronically administered vardenafil is effective and improves endothelial parameters in T2DM patient. Moreover, chronic vardenafil therapy improves hypogonadism in diabetic, hypogonadal men.