Electrophysiologic effects of verapamil metabolites in the isolated heart

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 1991 May;17(5):830-7. doi: 10.1097/00005344-199105000-00020.


The electrophysiologic effects of the metabolites of verapamil are unknown and may contribute to the observed differences between intravenous and oral verapamil. We examined the electrophysiologic effects of verapamil and its metabolites (norverapamil, N-dealkylverapamil (D617), and N-dealkylnorverapamil (D620)) at estimated, free therapeutic concentrations, in the retrogradely perfused, isolated rabbit heart. Verapamil at 5 and 10 ng/ml significantly prolonged anterograde (11 and 27%, respectively) and retrograde (10 and 25%, respectively) atrioventricular (AV) nodal block cycle lengths. Anterograde and retrograde AV nodal conduction times and refractory periods were also prolonged. Norverapamil at 100 ng/ml had qualitatively similar effects equivalent to 20-50% that observed with verapamil at 10 ng/ml. D620 had small but statistically significant effects on some AV nodal parameters. D617 had no effect. The combination of verapamil plus its principal metabolite, norverapamil, had additive effects. None of the compounds had any measurable effect on atrial conduction, His-Purkinje conduction, or atrial refractoriness. Ventricular refractoriness was significantly prolonged only by norverapamil. In conclusion, some of the metabolites of verapamil have important electrophysiologic AV nodal effects and may contribute to the clinical effects observed during chronic oral verapamil dosing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrioventricular Node / drug effects
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Heart Conduction System / drug effects
  • Male
  • Nitriles*
  • Rabbits
  • Random Allocation
  • Verapamil / analogs & derivatives*
  • Verapamil / metabolism
  • Verapamil / pharmacology*


  • Nitriles
  • alpha-(3-aminopropyl)-3,4-dimethoxy-alpha-(1-methylethyl)benzeneacetonitrile
  • 2-(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-5-amino-2-isopropylvaleronitrile
  • norverapamil
  • Verapamil