As known, inhibition of phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) has the therapeutic effect on male erectile dysfunction (ED), and the processed folium of Epimedium sagittatum Maxim. (PFES) characterized by 8-isopentenyl flavonoids is a famous herb for treating ED. However, the main flavonoids inhibitory activities, structure-activity relationship (SAR) and signaling pathway have been not systematically studied so that its pharmacodynamic mechanism is unclear.
We aimed to initially reveal the PFES efficacy mechanism for treating ED. For the first time, 6 main 8-isopentenyl flavonoids (1-6) from PFES were isolated and identified. Then based on HPLC detection, we proposed a novel method to screen inhibitors among them. We further analyze the three-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship (3D-QSAR) for those inhibitors.
The results were verified by cellular effects of the screened flavonoids. Among 6 compounds, Icariin: (1), 2-O”rhamnosylicaridide II (2) and Baohuoside I (3) were identified with significant activities (IC = 8.275, 3.233, 5.473 μM). Then 3D-QSAR studies showed that the replacement of C8 with bulky steric groups as isopentenyl, C3 with positive charge groups and C4′ with a hydrogen bond acceptor substituent could increase inhibitory effects. In contrast, the substitution of C7 with bulky steric groups or hydrophilic groups tended to decrease the efficacies. And compounds 1, 2, 3 could increase cGMP level and decrease cytoplasmic Ca of rat corpus cavernosum smooth muscle cells (CCSMCs)by activating PKG.
8-isopentenyl flavonoids could be the main pharmacodynamic substances of PFES in the treatment for ED, and some had significant PDE5A1 inhibitory activities so as to activate cGMP/PKG/Ca signaling pathway in CCSMCs, that was related to the substituents at the key sites such as C8, C3, C4′ and C7 in the characteristic compounds.

© 2022. The Author(s).