Beside its mechanical roles in controlling posture and locomotion, skeletal muscle system, the largest insulin and steroid hormones target tissue, plays a key role in influencing thermoregulation, secondary sexual characteristics, hormones metabolism, and glucose uptake and storage, as well as energetic metabolism. Indeed, in addition to insulin, several hormones influence the skeletal muscle metabolism/function and/or are influenced by skeletal muscles activity (i.e., physical exercise). Particularly, steroid hormones play a key role in modulating many biological processes in muscles, essential for overall muscle's function and homeostasis, both at rest and during all physical activities (i.e., physical exercise, muscular work). Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) is the enzyme engaged to hydrolyze cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in inactive 5'-GMP form. Therefore, through the inhibition of this enzyme, the intracellular level of cGMP increases, and the cGMP-related cellular responses are prolonged. Different drugs inhibiting PDE5 (PDE5i) exist, and the commercially available PDE5i are sildenafil, vardenafil, tadalafil, and avanafil. The PDE5i tadalafil may influence cellular physiology and endocrine-metabolic pathways in skeletal muscles and exerts its functions both by activating the cell signaling linked to the insulin-related metabolic pathways and modulating the endocrine responses, protein catabolism and hormone-related anabolism/catabolism during and after physical exercise-related stress. Based on recent in-vivo and in-vitro findings, in this narrative review the aim was to summarize the available evidence describing the interactions between the PDE5i tadalafil and steroid hormones in skeletal muscle tissue and physical exercise adaptation, focusing our interest on their possible synergistic or competitive action(s) on muscle metabolism and function.
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