Treating diabetes with combination of phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors and hydroxychloroquine-apossible prevention strategy for COVID-19? Academic Article uri icon


  • Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is one of the major risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease and the resultant devastating morbidity and mortality. The key features of T2D are hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance, and impaired insulin secretion. Patients with diabetes and myocardial infarction have worse prognosis than those without T2D. Moreover, obesity and T2D are recognized risk factors in developing severe form of COVID-19 with higher mortality rate. The current lines of drug therapy are insufficient to control T2D and its serious cardiovascular complications. Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) is a cGMP specific enzyme, which is the target of erectile dysfunction drugs including sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil. Cardioprotective effects of PDE5 inhibitors against ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury were reported in normal and diabetic animals. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a widely used antimalarial and anti-inflammatory drug and its hyperglycemia-controlling effect in diabetic patients is also under investigation. This review provides our perspective of a potential use of combination therapy of PDE5 inhibitor with HCQ to reduce cardiovascular risk factors and myocardial I/R injury in T2D. We previously observed that diabetic mice treated with tadalafil and HCQ had significantly reduced fasting blood glucose and lipid levels, increased plasma insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 levels, and improved insulin sensitivity, along with smaller myocardial infarct size following I/R. The combination treatment activated Akt/mTOR cellular survival pathway, which was likely responsible for the salutary effects. Therefore, pretreatment with PDE5 inhibitor and HCQ may be a potentially useful therapy not only for controlling T2D but also reducing the rate and severity of COVID-19 infection in the vulnerable population of diabetics.

published proceedings

  • Mol Cell Biochem

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kukreja, R. C., Wang, R., Koka, S., Das, A., Samidurai, A., & Xi, L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Kukreja, Rakesh C||Wang, Rui||Koka, Saisudha||Das, Anindita||Samidurai, Arun||Xi, Lei

publication date

  • March 2023