Sildenafil inhibits an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), resulting in relaxation of smooth muscle, vasodilation and increased blood flow. Sildenafil is used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Animal studies suggest that sildenafil also can improve insulin sensitivity, the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream by muscle. This action can lower the level of circulating glucose, and potentially reduce the risk of diabetes.
In the current study, overweight individuals with prediabetes were randomly assigned to receive sildenafil or placebo (inactive drug) for three months. Of the 42 subjects who completed the study, those treated with sildenafil were significantly more sensitive to insulin, the researchers reported in today's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.