Sildenafil, a selective and potent inhibitor of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-specific phosphodiesterase (PDE)5, has a relaxant effect on the smooth muscle cells of the arterioles supplying the human corpus cavernosum acting via nitric oxide (NO)-dependent mechanism. This study aimed to investigate the possible protective effect of sildenafil citrate on the extent of tissue integrity, oxidant-antioxidant status and neutrophil infiltration to the inflamed organ in a rat model of bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis. Lung fibrosis was induced by intratracheal administration of 0.1 ml of bleomycin hydrochloride (5 mg/kg in 0.9% NaCl) under anesthesia to Sprague-Dawley rats (200-250 g; n =7-8 per group). Control rats received an equal volume of saline intratracheally. In the treatment groups, the rats were treated with either sildenafil citrate (10 mg/kg per day; subcutaneously) or saline for 14 days. Another group of rats were administered subcutaneously with N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME; 20 mg/kg in 0.9% NaCI) 5 min after sildenafil injections. After decapitation, the lungs were excised and taken for microscopic evaluation or stored for the measurement of malondialdehyde (MDA) and glutathione (GSH) levels, and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and for the assessment of apoptosis. Trunk blood was collected for the assessment of serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin (1)-1 beta levels. In the group with lung fibrosis, the lung tissue was characterized by microscopic lesions, increased lipid peroxidation with a concomitant reduction in GSH content, increased MPO activity and apoptosis. Serum TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta levels were higher in the lung fibrosis group compared to control values. Sildenafil reversed tissue MDA levels, MPO activity and serum pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, and preserved GSH content although its effect on the extent of tissue lesion and apoptosis was not statistically significant. Treatment with L-NAME reversed the effect of sildenafil on GSH content. In conclusion, sildenafil citrate administration to rats with bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis seems to be beneficial via prevention of lipid peroxidation, cytokine production and/or release and neutrophil accumulation. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.