Viagra can reduce risk of Alzheimer's, says study

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 08, 2021, 01:25 AM(IST)

Viagra Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

In order to check Viagra's effect on risk of Alzheimer's, a database of more than 7 million patients was analysed

Viagra is a boon for men with erectile dysfunction but a new study says that the pill, often mentioned as a 'wonder pill' may also be linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.

The study found that Sildenafil, the drug used in Viagra reduced risk of Alzheimer's by whopping 69 per cent. Result of the study has been published in the journal Nature Aging.

A team from Cleveland Clinic analysed a database of more than 7 million patients, and used computational methodology to screen and validate over 1,600 FDA-approved drugs as potential therapies for Alzheimer`s.

The buildup of beta amyloid and tau proteins in the brain leads to amyloid plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles -- two hallmarks of Alzheimer`s-related brain changes. The team pinpointed drugs that target both amyloid and tau as having higher scores compared to drugs that target just one or the other.

"Sildenafil, which has been shown to significantly improve cognition and memory in preclinical models, presented as the best drug candidate," said Feixiong Cheng, from Cleveland Clinic`s Genomic Medicine Institute.

Further, the analysis included patients using comparator drugs that either were in an active Alzheimer`s clinical trial (losartan or metformin) or were not yet reported as relevant to the disease (diltiazem or glimepiride).

They found that sildenafil users were 69 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer`s disease than non-sildenafil users after 6 years of follow-up. Specifically, sildenafil had a 55 per cent reduced risk of the disease compared to losartan, 63 per cent compared to metformin, 65 per cent compared to diltiazem and 64 per cent compared to glimepiride.

"Notably, we found that sildenafil use reduced the likelihood of Alzheimer`s in individuals with coronary artery disease, hypertension and Type-2 diabetes, all of which are comorbidities significantly associated with risk of the disease, as well as in those without," Cheng said.

The researchers also developed an Alzheimer`s patient-derived brain cell model using stem cells.

In the model, they found that sildenafil increased brain cell growth and decreased hyperphosphorylation of tau proteins -- a hallmark which leads to neurofibrillary tangles --, offering biological insights into how sildenafil may influence disease-related brain changes.

(With inputs from agencies)

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