Calcium is a component of many metabolic reactions. By blocking calcium transport across cell membranes, calcium channel antagonists can therefore theoretically affect numerous metabolic and hormonal processes. In vitro studies have often documented just such an effect. Because of the expanding use and prevalence of calcium antagonists in clinical practice, a review of their in vivo effects on hormones and metabolism is warranted. The effect on glucoregulatory hormones, calcium regulatory hormones, anterior and posterior pituitary secretion, the renin-angiotensin axis, plasma catecholamines, and plasma lipids and lipoproteins is herein reviewed. The various calcium antagonists, by virtue of their distinct chemical structures, influence metabolism in their own unique manner. Despite the widespread involvement of calcium in hormone action, however, calcium channel antagonists have little dramatic impact on hormone regulation. This is, in part, due to the drug dosage used in clinical practice and to the inherent compensatory mechanisms built into normal endocrine function. The development of agents with greater and more potent metabolic specificity, however, coupled with the ability to target drug action, holds promise for expanded therapeutic application in the future.
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