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Diabetes can be described as a syndrome of multiple closely related conditions induced by a chronic state of hyperglycaemia resulting from defective insulin secretion, insulin action or both. Chronic complications associated with diabetes (including neuropathy, vascular disease, nephropathy and retinopathy) are common, and of these, erectile dysfunction (ED) deserves special attention. ED and its correlation with cardiovascular disease require careful evaluation and appropriate treatment. PDE5 inhibitors (PDE5is) are an important tool for the treatment of ED, with new drugs coming onto the market since the late 90s. This review offers an overview of PDE5is and their use in treating ED in diabetes. We underline the differences between different types of PDE5i, focusing on available doses, duration of action, T ½, side effects and selectivity profiles in relation to patients with diabetes. We also discuss the link between diabetes and ED in presence of various associated cofactors (obesity, hypertension and its pharmacological treatments, atherosclerosis, hyperhomocysteinaemia, neuropathy, nephropathy, hypogonadism and depression). Finally a number of past and ongoing clinical trials on the use of PDE5is in patients with diabetes are presented to offer an overview of the appropriate treatment of ED in this condition.

Original publication




Journal article


Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders

Publication Date



Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Via Alvaro del Portillo 21, Rome, Italy.