Tadalafil is metabolized predominantly by the hepatic CYP3A4 enzyme system. The presence of other drugs which induce this system can shorten tadalafil half-life and reduce serum levels, and hence efficacy, of the drug.
Mechanism of action
Penile erection during sexual stimulation is caused by increased penile blood flow resulting from the relaxation of penile arteries and the smooth muscle of the corpus cavernosum. This response is mediated by the release of nitric oxide (NO) from nerve terminals and endothelial cells, which stimulates the synthesis of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (more commonly known as cyclic GMP or cGMP) in smooth muscle cells. cGMP relaxes smooth muscle and increases blood flow to the corpus cavernosum.
The inhibition of phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) enhances erectile function by increasing the amount of cGMP. Tadalafil (and sildenafil and vardenafil) inhibits PDE5. However, because sexual stimulation is required to initiate the local penile release of nitric oxide, tadalafil’s inhibition of PDE5 will have no effect without direct sexual stimulation of the penis.
Duration of action
Although sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil all work by inhibiting PDE5, tadalafil’s pharmacologic distinction is its longer half-life (17.5 hours), compared to sildenafil and vardenafil, which are both 4–5 hours. This translates to a longer duration of action, which is partly responsible for “The Weekend Pill” nickname. Furthermore, the longer half-life is the basis for tadalafil’s daily therapeutic use in treating pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Comparison with actions of other PDE5 inhibitors
Tadalafil, sildenafil, and vardenafil all act by inhibiting the PDE5 enzyme, but these drugs also inhibit PDE enzymes 6, 1, and 11 in varying degrees.
Sildenafil and vardenafil inhibit PDE6, an enzyme found in the eye, more than tadalafil. Some sildenafil users see a bluish tinge and have a heightened sensitivity to light because of PDE6 inhibition.
Sildenafil and vardenafil also inhibit PDE1 more than tadalafil. PDE1 is found in the brain, heart, and vascular smooth muscle. It is thought that the inhibition of PDE1 by sildenafil and vardenafil leads to vasodilation, flushing, and tachycardia.
Tadalafil inhibits PDE11 more than sildenafil or vardenafil. PDE11 is expressed in skeletal muscle, the prostate, the liver, the kidney, the pituitary gland, and the testes. The effects on the body of inhibiting PDE11 are not known.
Tadalafil can be synthesized starting from (D)-tryptophan methyl ester and piperonal via a Pictet–Spengler reaction. This is followed by condensations with chloroacetyl chloride and methylamine to complete the diketopiperazine ring:
The FDA’s approval of sildenafil in 1998 was a ground-breaking commercial event for the treatment of ED, with sales exceeding US$1 billion. Subsequently, the FDA approved vardenafil in 2003, and tadalafil in 2003.
It initially was developed by the biotechnology company ICOS, and then again developed and marketed worldwide by Lilly ICOS, LLC, the joint venture of ICOS Corporation and Eli Lilly and Company. Tadalafil was approved in 2009 in the United States for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension and is under regulatory review in other regions for this condition. In late November 2008, Eli Lilly sold the exclusive rights to commercialize tadalafil for pulmonary arterial hypertension in the United States to United Therapeutics for an upfront payment of $150 million.
Tadalafil was discovered by Glaxo Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) under a partnership between Glaxo and ICOS to develop new drugs that began in August 1991. In 1993, the Bothell, Washington biotechnology company ICOS Corporation began studying compound IC351, a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) enzyme inhibitor. In 1994, Pfizer scientists discovered that sildenafil, which also inhibits the PDE5 enzyme, caused penile erection in men participating in a clinical study of a heart medicine. Although ICOS scientists were not testing compound IC351 for treating ED, they recognized its potential usefulness for treating that disorder. Soon, in 1994, ICOS received a patent for compound IC351 (structurally unlike sildenafil and vardenafil), and Phase 1 clinical trials began in 1995. In 1997, the Phase 2 clinical studies were initiated for men experiencing ED, then progressed to the Phase 3 trials that supported the drug’s FDA approval. Although Glaxo had an agreement with ICOS to share profits 50/50 for drugs resulting from the partnership, Glaxo let the agreement lapse in 1996 as the drugs developed were not in the company’s core markets. In 1998, ICOS Corporation and Eli Lilly and Company formed the Lilly ICOS, LLC, joint venture company to further develop and commercialize tadalafil as a treatment for ED. Two years later, Lilly ICOS, LLC, filed a new drug application with the FDA for compound IC351 (under the tadalafil generic name, and the Cialis brand name). In May 2002, Lilly ICOS reported to the American Urological Association that clinical trial testing demonstrated that tadalafil was effective for up to 36 hours, and one year later, the FDA approved tadalafil. One advantage Cialis has over Viagra and Levitra is its 17.5-hour half-life (thus Cialis is advertised to work for up to 36 hours, after which time there remains approximately 25% of the absorbed dose in the body) when compared to the four-hour half–life of sildenafil (Viagra).
In 2007, Eli Lilly and Company bought the ICOS Corporation for $2.3 billion. As a result, Eli Lilly owned Cialis and then closed the ICOS operations, ending the joint venture and firing most of ICOS’s approximately 500 employees, except for 127 employees of the ICOS biologics facility, which subsequently was bought by CMC Biopharmaceuticals A/S (CMC).
Persons surnamed “Cialis” objected to Eli Lilly and Company’s so naming the drug, but the company has maintained that the drug’s trade name is unrelated to the surname.
On October 6, 2011, the U.S. FDA approved tadalafil to treat the signs and symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a condition in males in which the prostate gland becomes enlarged, obstructing the free flow of urine. Symptoms may include sudden urges to urinate (urgency), difficulty in starting urination (hesitancy), a weak urine stream, and more frequent urination — especially at night. The FDA has also approved tadalafil for treatment of both BPH and erectile dysfunction (ED) where the two conditions co-exist.