Voltage and calcium-gated potassium channels: Functional expression and therapeutic potential in the vasculature

Abstract

The dual expression of voltage-gated K+ (KV) channels and high conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BKCa) channels in vascular smooth muscle membranes provides a fundamental mechanism for regulating the membrane potential and tone of resistance arteries. The distribution of these channels appears to differ between vascular regions, and diverse channel phenotypes resulting from molecular heterogeneity may mediate distinct patterns of excitability and contraction in specific vascular beds. Under physiological conditions, KV and BKCa channels appear to act in concert to regulate the level of contraction in the cerebral, coronary and pulmonary circulations, and thereby maintain blood flow to vital tissues. However, during cardiovascular pathologies, this profile of K+ channel function may be disrupted in vascular smooth muscle membranes, and unique disease-specific patterns of KV and BKCa channel expression may emerge. Under these conditions, drug therapies designed to normalize K+ channel expression or target overexpressed channels in arterial smooth muscle membranes may have potential value for the treatment of vascular diseases.

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Berger, M.G., Rusch, N.J. Voltage and calcium-gated potassium channels: Functional expression and therapeutic potential in the vasculature. Perspectives in Drug Discovery and Design 15, 313–332 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1017005332583

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  • drug therapy
  • hypertension
  • hypoxia
  • ion channel expression
  • potassium channels
  • vascular smooth muscle