The Impact of ATP-Sensitive K+ Channel Subtype Selectivity of Insulin Secretagogues for the Coronary Vasculature and the Myocardium

  1. Ulrich Quast,
  2. Damian Stephan,
  3. Susanne Bieger and
  4. Ulrich Russ
  1. From the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical Faculty, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ulrich Quast, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical Faculty, University of Tübingen, Wilhelmstraβe. 56, D-72074 Tübingen, Germany. E-mail: ulrich.quast{at}


Insulin secretagogues (sulfonylureas and glinides) increase insulin secretion by closing the ATP-sensitive K+ channel (KATP channel) in the pancreatic β-cell membrane. KATP channels subserve important functions also in the heart. First, KATP channels in coronary myocytes contribute to the control of coronary blood flow at rest and in hypoxia. Second, KATP channels in the sarcolemma of cardiomyocytes (sarcKATP channels) are required for adaptation of the heart to stress. In addition, the opening of sarcKATP channels and of KATP channels in the inner membrane of mitochondria (mitoKATP channels) plays a central role in ischemic preconditioning. Opening of sarcKATP channels also underlies the ST-segment elevation of the electrocardiogram, the primary diagnostic tool for initiation of lysis therapy in acute myocardial infarction. Therefore, inhibition of cardiovascular KATP channels by insulin secretagogues is considered to increase cardiovascular risk. Electrophysiological experiments have shown that the secretagogues differ in their selectivity for the pancreatic over the cardiovascular KATP channels, being either highly selective (∼1,000×; short sulfonylureas such as nateglinide and mitiglinide), moderately selective (10–20×; long sulfonylureas such as glibenclamide [glyburide]), or essentially nonselective (<2×; repaglinide). New binding studies presented here give broadly similar results. In clinical studies, these differences are not yet taken into account. The hypothesis that the in vitro selectivity of the insulin secretagogues is of importance for the cardiovascular outcome of diabetic patients with coronary artery disease needs to be tested.


  • This article is based on a presentation at a symposium. The symposium and the publication of this article were made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from Servier.

    • Accepted June 1, 2004.
    • Received March 12, 2004.
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