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Viagra protects the fetal heart

last modified Mar 09, 2017 05:50 PM
Sildenafil may be a good candidate for human translational antioxidant therapy to protect fetal the developing cardiovascular system, reveals new study by Dino Giussani featured on the cover of the Journal of Physiology

 

One of the main complications of pregnancy is a problem with placental blood flow which decreases fetal oxygenation and leads to reduced fetal growth, such as during preeclampsia.  Sidenafil, the main component of Viagra, is a powerful vasodilator that may protect fetal growth in pregnancy complicated by adverse intrauterine conditions. Therefore, human clinical trials have recently been launched to determine the efficacy of Sildenafil as candidate clinical intervention for fetal growth restriction in complicated pregnancy.

However, whether the effects of Sildenafil transcend those on placental perfusion and fetal growth onto beneficial or detrimental effects on the fetus is completely unknown. In this study, Itani et al. used the chick embryo developing under lower than normal oxygen conditions to isolate the direct effects of Sildenafil on the fetal heart and circulation independent of effects on the mother and the placenta. 

The scientists show that Sildenafil treatment directly protects the fetal cardiovascular system, and that the mechanisms of Sildenafil protection include reduced oxidative stress.  Lead author Professor Dino Giussani stated: ‘Sildenafil may be a good candidate for human translational antioxidant therapy to protect not only fetal growth but the developing cardiovascular system in pregnancy complicated by reduced fetal oxygenation, such as during preeclampsia.’

References

Sildenafil therapy for fetal cardiovascular dysfunction during hypoxic development: studies in the chick embryo by Itani N, Skeffington KL, Beck C, Giussani DA (J Physiol. 2017; 595(5):1563-1573).

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