br Method Detailed study protocol was reported previously Th
Method Detailed study protocol was reported previously. The ULTIMATE- HFrEF trial was approved by the Institutional Review Board of our hospital, and the study drug, udenafil, was approved as Investigational New Drug for treatment in patients with chronic HFrEF by Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea.
Results Most patients were of non-ischemic etiology for LV systolic dysfunction (39/41, 95%). Two study groups were well balanced regarding baseline clinical, hemodynamic, and echocardiographic parameters, with the only exception of gender (Table I, Table II). All patients were on optimal, established HF treatment based on the current guideline.
Discussion The key findings can be summarized as follows; 1) udenafil significantly improved subjective (NYHA class) and objective (VO2 and VE/VCO2) exercise capacity, 2) udenafil improved both LV systolic and diastolic functions, predominantly by the myocardial effects, and 3) all of these benefits were accomplished with acceptable safety profiles. Dysregulation of cGMP is a major contributor to pulmonary vasoconstriction in chronic HFrEF.5, 6 cGMP dysregulation by PDE5 not only influences the alteration of pulmonary vascular tone, but also contributes to LV remodeling. Since PDE5 R547 was significantly increased in the explanted LV from patients with HFrEF, the increased PDE5 expression was believed to predispose LV to experiencing adverse remodeling. This finding is concordant with the landmark study by Takimoto et al. showing that blocking of cGMP degradation with PDE5 inhibitor suppresses myocyte hypertrophy, restores cardiac function, and reverses pre-established hypertrophy in mice model. We also observed, in the earlier study, the effect of sildenafil on volume overloaded LV. Hence, PDE5 inhibition could be a novel therapeutic target in HFrEF.5, 6, 11, 28 With this background, Lewis et al. elegantly proved that sildenafil significantly improved exercise capacity and quality of life, reduced VE/VCO2 slope, and augmented RV systolic function in patients with HFrEF and NYHA class II to IV.11, 29 We also observed significant improvement in exercise tolerance in this study. In particular, apart from subjective improvement as indicated by NYHA class, CPET data provides an objective evidence of a rise in peak VO2 and a significant fall in VE/VCO2 slope in the udenafil group. Although differences in study design and disease severity of study population do not allow for direct comparison, udenafil seems to have at least non-inferior effects on exercise capacity in HFrEF patients as compared with sildenafil.11, 30 The improvement in exercise performance in the udenafil group coincided with a significant improvement in LV systolic and diastolic functions. LV-EF significantly increased by 6.6% in the udenafil group, similar to the value observed in the earlier study. Especially, a decrease in LV end-systolic volume with no change in LV end-diastolic volume also signifies an increase in LV contractility itself, which is again advocated by improvement in tissue Doppler–derived s’ in the udenafil group. LV diastolic function was significantly improved, as well. E/e’ was decreased by udenafil along with concomitant decreases in LAVI, implying that the association of udenafil treatment with LV diastolic function improvement is not the consequence of random association. Plasma BNP level also decreased in a progressive manner, conferring the impression that the beneficial effects of udenafil on the LV diastolic function are real. An elevation in LV filling pressure followed by its backward transmission to pulmonary vasculature is believed to be a core pathophysiology of dyspnea and PHT development in HFrEF. Therefore, it is acceptable that an improvement in LV diastolic function by udenafil led to improvement in subjective symptom and exercise capacity, and a drop in PASP. Of note, we observed less PASP elevation following exercise in the udenafil-treated patients. Since patients enrolled in the current study had NYHA II to III symptomatology, i.e. patients with no dyspnea at rest, a decrease in post-exercise PASP was theoretically much more expected to contribute to improvement in exercise capacity. In fact, we observed that post-exercise PASP was more prominently decreased in the udenafil group, whereas the change in PASP at rest showed a borderline significance.