Background: Traumatic cerebrovascular injury (TCVI), a common consequence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), presents an attractive therapeutic target. Because phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors potentiate the action of nitric oxide (NO) produced by endothelial cells, they are candidate therapies for TCVI. This study aims to: (1) measure cerebral blood flow (CBF), cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR), and change in CVR after a single dose of sildenafil (ΔCVR) in chronic TBI compared to uninjured controls; (2) examine the safety and tolerability of 8-week sildenafil administration in chronic symptomatic moderate/severe TBI patients; and as an exploratory aim, (3) assess the effect of an 8-week course of sildenafil on chronic TBI symptoms. Methods: Forty-six subjects (31 chronic TBI, 15 matched healthy volunteers) were enrolled. Baseline CBF and CVR before and after administration of sildenafil were measured. Symptomatic TBI subjects then completed an 8-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of sildenafil. A neuropsychological battery and neurobehavioral symptom questionnaires were administered at each study visit. Results: After a single dose of sildenafil, TBI subjects showed a significant increase in global CVR compared to healthy controls (P < 0.001, d = 0.9). Post-sildenafil CVR maps showed near-normalization of CVR in many regions where baseline CVR was low, predominantly within areas without structural abnormalities. Sildenafil was well tolerated. Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale showed a trend toward clinical improvement while on sildenafil treatment. Findings: Single-dose sildenafil improves regional CVR deficits in chronic TBI patients. CVR and ΔCVR are potential predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers of PDE5 inhibitor therapy for TCVI. Sildenafil is a potential therapy for TCVI.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology