How Do Phosphodiesterase-4 Enzyme Inhibitors Work?

Reviewed on 10/22/2021

How do phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitors work?

Phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme (PDE-4) inhibitors are medications used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a progressive condition with chronic inflammation that damages the lungs and causes breathing difficulties.

Phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitors are a novel class of drugs and the first non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used in the treatment of COPD. PDE-4 inhibitors prevent inflammation, infection, and resultant damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. PDE-4 inhibitors also reduce pulmonary hypertension and excessive mucus secretion.

PDE-4 inhibitors work by selectively inhibiting the activity of subtype 4 in the family of phosphodiesterase enzymes. Phosphodiesterase enzymes are a group of enzymes that regulate the intracellular levels of signaling molecules known as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), by breaking them down.

Phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitors prevent PDE-4 from breaking down cAMP, increasing its concentration in the lung tissue. An increase in cAMP levels results in several anti-inflammatory effects that include:

How are phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitors used?

Phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitors are oral tablets used to reduce the risk of COPD exacerbations in patients with severe COPD associated with chronic bronchitis and a history of exacerbations.


COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. See Answer

What are side effects of phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitors?

Side effects of phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitors may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitor drugs?

Generic and brand names of the only FDA-approved phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme inhibitor drug are:


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