Molecular mechanisms of diabetic coronary dysfunction due to large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel impairment

Ru Xinsg Wang, Hai Feng Shi, Qiang Chai, Ying Wu, Wei Sun, Yuan Ji, Yong Yao, Ku Lin Li, Chang Ying Zhang, Jie Zheng, Su Xia Guo, Xiao Rong Li, Tong Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background Diabetes mellitus is associated with coronary dysfunction, contributing to a 2- to 4-fold increase in the risk of coronary heart diseases. The mechanisms by which diabetes induces vasculopathy involve endothelial-dependent and -independent vascular dysfunction in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The purpose of this study is to determine the role of vascular large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channel activities in coronary dysfunction in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Methods Using videomicroscopy, immunoblotting, fluorescent assay and patch clamp techniques, we investigated the coronary BK channel activities and BK channel-mediated coronary vasoreactivity in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Results BK currents (defined as the iberiotoxin-sensitive K+ component) contribute (65±4)% of the total K+ currents in freshly isolated coronary smooth muscle cells and >50% of the contraction of the inner diameter of coronary arteries from normal rats. However, BK current density is remarkably reduced in coronary smooth muscle cells of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats, leading to an increase in coronary artery tension. BK channel activity in response to free Ca2+ is impaired in diabetic rats. Moreover, cytoplasmic application of DHS-1 (a specific BK channel β1 subunit activator) robustly enhanced the open probability of BK channels in coronary smooth muscle cells of normal rats. In diabetic rats, the DHS-1 effect was diminished in the presence of 200 nmol/L Ca2+ and was significantly attenuated in the presence of high free calcium concentration, i.e., 1 μmol/L Ca2+. Immunoblotting experiments confirmed that there was a 2-fold decrease in BK-β1 protein expression in diabetic vessels, without altering the BK channel α-subunit expression. Although the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration of coronary arterial smooth muscle cells was increased from (103±23) nmol/L (n=5) of control rats to (193±22) nmol/L (n=6, P <0.05) of STZ-induced diabetic rats, reduced BK-β1 expression made these channels less sensitive to intracellular Ca2+, which in turn led to enhanced smooth muscle contraction. Conclusions Our results indicated that BK channels are the key determinant of coronary arterial tone. Impaired BK channel function in diabetes mellitus is associated with down-regulation of BK-β1 expression and reduction of the β1-mediated BK channel activation in diabetic vessels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2548-2555
Number of pages8
JournalChinese medical journal
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 20 2012


  • Coronary artery
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Large conductance Ca-activated K channel
  • Patch clamp
  • Smooth muscle cell
  • β1-subunit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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