Isosorbide dinitrate

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Isosorbide dinitrate
Trade namesIsordil, others[1]
Other names(3R,3aS,6S,6aS)-hexahydrofuro[3,2-b]furan-3,6-diyl dinitrate
  • 1,4:3,6-dianhydro-2,5-di-O-nitro-D-glucitol
Clinical data
  • AU: B1
  • US: C (Risk not ruled out)
Routes of
By mouth, under the tongue, skin patch[2]
Defined daily dose60 mg (by mouth)[2]
20 mg (oral spray, under the tongue)[2]
100 mg (skin patch)[2]
External links
License data
Legal status
  • In general: ℞ (Prescription only)
Bioavailability10–90%, average 25%
Elimination half-life1 hour
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass236.136 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • [O-][N+](=O)O[C@H]1[C@H]2OC[C@H](O[N+]([O-])=O)[C@H]2OC1
  • InChI=1S/C6H8N2O8/c9-7(10)15-3-1-13-6-4(16-8(11)12)2-14-5(3)6/h3-6H,1-2H2/t3-,4+,5-,6-/m1/s1 checkY

Isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN) is a medication used for heart failure, esophageal spasms, and to treat and prevent chest pain from not enough blood flow to the heart.[1] It has been found to be particularly useful in heart failure due to systolic dysfunction together with hydralazine in black people.[3][1] It is taken by mouth or under the tongue.[1]

Common side effects include headache, lightheadedness with standing, and blurred vision.[1] Severe side effects include low blood pressure.[1] It is unclear if use in pregnancy is safe for the baby.[1] It should not be used together with medications within the sildenafil family.[1] ISDN is in the nitrate family of medications and works by dilating blood vessels.[1]

Isosorbide dinitrate was first written about in 1939.[4] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.[5] ISDN is available as a generic medication.[1] The wholesale cost in the developing world is about US$6.36 a month.[6] In the United States it costs less than US$25 per month.[7] A long-acting form exists.[1]

Medical uses

It is used for angina, in addition to other medications for congestive heart failure, and for esophageal spasms.[1]

Long-acting nitrates can be more useful as they are generally more effective and stable in the short term.


The defined daily dose is 60 mg by mouth, 20 mg under the tongue and as an oral spray, and 100 mg as a skin patch.[2]

Treatment of angina is with 5 to 10 mg under the tongue with a second dose potentially after 10 min.[8] For the prevention of angina and in heart failure 5 to 40 mg can be used two to three times per day.[8] In adults 5 to 10 mg can also be taken before the onset of activity to prevent angina.[8]

Side effects

After long-term use for treating chronic conditions, tolerance may develop in patients, reducing its effectiveness. The mechanisms of nitrate tolerance have been thoroughly investigated in the last 30 years and several hypotheses have been proposed. These include:

  1. Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); fainting; fast or slow heartbeat; nausea; new or worsening chest pain; vomiting.
  2. Impaired biotransformation of ISDN to its active principle NO (or a NO-related species)
  3. Neurohormonal activation, causing sympathetic activation and release of vasoconstrictors such as endothelin and angiotensin II which counteract the vasodilation induced by ISDN
  4. Plasma volume expansion
  5. The oxidative stress hypothesis (proposed by Munzel et al. in 1995)

The last hypothesis might represent a unifying hypothesis, and an ISDN-induced inappropriate production of oxygen free radicals might induce a number of abnormalities which include the ones described above. Furthermore, nitrate tolerance is shown to be associated with vascular abnormalities which have the potential to worsen patients prognosis:[9] these include endothelial and autonomic dysfunction.[10] In the short run, ISDN can cause severe headaches, necessitating analgesic (very rarely up to morphine) administration for relief of pain, as well as severe hypotension, and, in certain cases, bradycardia. This makes some physicians nervous and should prompt caution when starting nitrate administration.

Mechanism of action

Similar to other nitrites and organic nitrates, isosorbide dinitrate is converted to nitric oxide (NO), an active intermediate compound which activates the enzyme guanylate cyclase (atrial natriuretic peptide receptor A). This stimulates the synthesis of cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP) which then activates a series of protein kinase-dependent phosphorylations in the smooth muscle cells, eventually resulting in the dephosphorylation of the myosin light chain of the smooth muscle fiber. The subsequent sequestration of calcium ions results in the relaxation of the smooth muscle cells and vasodilation.[11]

Society and culture

Isosorbide dinitrate is sold in the US under the brand names Dilatrate-SR by Schwarz and Isordil by Valeant, according to FDA Orange Book. In the United Kingdom, Argentina, and Hong Kong, a trade name of it is Isoket. It is also a component of BiDil.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "Isosorbide Dinitrate/Mononitrate". The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "WHOCC - ATC/DDD Index". Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  3. Chavey, William E.; Bleske, Barry E.; Van Harrison, R.; Hogikyan, Robert V.; Kesterson, Sean K.; Nicklas, John M. (1 April 2008). "Pharmacologic management of heart failure caused by systolic dysfunction". American Family Physician. 77 (7): 957–964. ISSN 0002-838X. PMID 18441861.
  4. Fischer, Janos; Ganellin, C. Robin (2006). Analogue-based Drug Discovery. John Wiley & Sons. p. 454. ISBN 9783527607495. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20.
  5. World Health Organization (2019). World Health Organization model list of essential medicines: 21st list 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization. hdl:10665/325771. WHO/MVP/EMP/IAU/2019.06. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
  6. "Isosorbide Dinitrate". International Drug Price Indicator Guide. Archived from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  7. Hamilton, Richart (2015). Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia 2015 Deluxe Lab-Coat Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 160. ISBN 9781284057560.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "ISOSORBIDE DINITRATE oral - Essential drugs". Archived from the original on 28 August 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  9. (Nakamura et al.)
  10. (Gori et al.).
  11. Rang; et al. Pharmacology (8th ed.). Elsevier. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-7020-5362-7.

External links