Pharmacological modulation of K(ATP) channels

Biochem Soc Trans. 2002 Apr;30(2):333-9.


Pharmacological modulation of ATP-sensitive K+ (K(ATP)) channels is used in the treatment of a number of clinical conditions, including type 2 diabetes and angina. The sulphonylureas and related drugs, which are used to treat type 2 diabetes, stimulate insulin secretion by closing K(ATP) channels in pancreatic beta-cells. Agents used to treat angina, by contrast, act by opening K(ATP) channels in vascular smooth and cardiac muscle. Both the therapeutic K(ATP) channel inhibitors and the K(ATP) channel openers target the sulphonylurea receptor (SUR) subunit of the K(ATP) channel, which exists in several isoforms expressed in different tissues (SUR1 in pancreatic beta-cells, SUR2A in cardiac muscle and SUR2B in vascular smooth muscle). The tissue-specific action of drugs that target the K(ATP) channel is attributed to the properties of these different SUR subtypes. In this review, we discuss the molecular basis of tissue-specific drug action, and its implications for clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / chemistry
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / drug effects
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nicorandil / pharmacology
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels / chemistry
  • Potassium Channels / drug effects*
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / chemistry
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / drug effects
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / drug effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / pharmacology
  • Sulfonylurea Receptors


  • ABCC8 protein, human
  • ABCC9 protein, human
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds
  • Sulfonylurea Receptors
  • Nicorandil
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases