Potassium channel openers protect cardiac mitochondria by attenuating oxidant stress at reoxygenation

Cevher Ozcan, Martin Bienengraeber, Petras P. Dzeja, Andre Terzic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


K+ channel openers have been recently recognized for their ability to protect mitochondria from anoxic injury. Yet the mechanism responsible for mitochondrial preservation under oxidative stress is not fully understood. Here, mitochondria were isolated from rat hearts and subjected to 20-min anoxia, followed by reoxygenation. At reoxygenation, increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was associated with reduced ADP-stimulated oxygen consumption, blunted ATP production, and disrupted mitochondrial structural integrity coupled with cytochrome c release. The prototype K+ channel opener diazoxide markedly reduced mitochondrial ROS production at reoxygenation with a half-maximal effect of 29 μM. Diazoxide also preserved oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial membrane integrity, as indicated by electron microscopy and reduced cytochrome c release. The protective effect of diazoxide was reproduced by the structurally distinct K+ channel opener nicorandil and antagonized by 5-hydroxydecanoic acid, a short-chain fatty acid derivative and presumed blocker of mitochondrial ATP-sensitive K+ channels. Opener-mediated mitochondrial protection was simulated by the free radical scavenger system composed of superoxide dismutase and catalase. However, the effect of openers on ROS production was maintained in nominally K+-free medium in the presence or absence of the K+ ionophore valinomycin and was mimicked by malonate, a modulator of the mitochondrial redox state. This suggests the existence of a K+ conductance-independent pathway for mitochondrial protection targeted by K- channel openers. Thus the cardioprotecive mechanism of K+ channel openers includes direct attenuation of mitochondrial oxidant stress at reoxygenation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H531-H539
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 51-2
StatePublished - 2002


  • ATP
  • Anoxia
  • Cardioprotection
  • Diazoxide
  • Energy metabolism
  • Heart
  • Nicorandil
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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