Potassium channels and human corporeal smooth muscle cell tone: Diabetes and relaxation of human corpus cavernosum smooth muscle by adenosine triphosphate sensitive potassium channel openers

K. Venkateswarlu, A. Giraldi, W. Zhao, H. Z. Wang, A. Melman, M. Spektor, G. J. Christ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


Purpose: Sustained contraction of human corporeal smooth muscle depends on continuous transmembrane calcium flux through voltage gated calcium channels. K channels modulate corporeal smooth muscle membrane potential and, thus, ultimately affect transmembrane calcium flux. Therefore, we characterized relaxation responses elicited by the K channel modulators pinacidil and levcromakalim on isolated human corporeal tissue strips. We also evaluated the possibility that there may be alterations in adenosine triphosphate sensitive K channel pharmacology/function related to the presence of diabetes mellitus. Materials and Methods: A total of 215 isolated human corporeal tissue strips obtained from 57 male patients with organic erectile dysfunction were investigated. Cumulative concentration-response curves were constructed at half log increments for steady state relaxation responses elicited by pinacidil and levcromakalim on equivalently phenylephrine pre-contracted (to approximately 75% of maximum) isolated corporeal tissue strips. Potassium currents were measured using the cell attached whole cell patch clamp technique on freshly isolated corporeal smooth muscle cells. Results: A concentration dependent, glibenclamide sensitive relaxation response of phenylephrine pre-contracted corporeal tissue strips was observed for pinacidil and levcromakalim. Consistent with such observations, electrophysiological recordings on freshly isolated myocytes revealed that pinacidil (10 μM.) and levcromakalim (10 μM.) induced whole cell potassium currents that were blocked by glibenclamide (10 μM.). In addition, statistical analysis revealed that phenylephrine pre-contracted corporeal tissue strips from patients without diabetes were more sensitive to relaxation by both compounds than corporeal tissue strips excised from those with diabetes. Furthermore, relaxation responses elicited by pinacidil and levcromakalim were not affected by charybdotoxin or 4-aminopyridine but were completely reversed by KCl or tetraethylammonium chloride. Conclusions: These data indicate that the adenosine triphosphate sensitive K channel subtype is likely to have an important role in the relaxation of isolated corporeal tissue strips and, moreover, they are the molecular target for the K channel modulators/openers levcromakalim and pinacidil. Such observations are consistent with the supposition that alterations in the structure/function/activity of these potassium channels may underlie at least some aspects of observed diabetes related differences in tissue sensitivity to K channel modulators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002



  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Impotence
  • Muscle, smooth
  • Penis
  • Potassium channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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