What is the role of oral prostacyclin pathway medications in pulmonary arterial hypertension management?

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Critical Care

Journal Title

Current hypertension reports

MeSH Headings

Acetamides, Antihypertensive Agents, Epoprostenol, Humans, Hypertension, Pulmonary, Pyrazines


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Prostacyclin pathway medications have been shown to be highly efficacious in the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) through multiple prospective clinical trials and more than two decades of clinical experience. The strongest support for prostacyclin use in PAH management is with parenteral administration. Numerous risks and limitations of parenteral delivery systems as well as significant patient burdens restrict widespread parenteral use. Highly effective and tolerable oral prostacyclin preparations to manage PAH have long been sought. We review the development of the oral prostacyclin agents beraprost, treprostinil, and selexipag and including current indications and limitations. Research into new approaches to the management of PAH, expanding indications for existing agents, and development of novel agents are also discussed.

RECENT FINDINGS: Two oral prostacyclin pathway medications, oral treprostinil and selexipag, were FDA approved in December 2013 and 2015, respectively. Current guidelines recommend use of selexipag in WHO-FC II and III (class 1, level B recommendation) and oral treprostinil in WHO-FC III (class 2b, level B recommendation). The use of these medications is challenging due to complexity in dosing and their side effect profiles which limit patient tolerability and acceptance. There is a promising role for oral prostacyclin pathway medications in patients with PAH. Future investigations are underway of alternative dose regimens and transitioning from parenteral therapies in order to improve efficacy and tolerability.



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