Pretreatment of tissues with potassium channel openers (KCO's) has been observed to be cytoprotective in a broad variety of insults. This phenomenon has been proposed to be intimately linked to activation of mitochondrial potassium channels which apparently modulate the mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This critical review summarizes literature findings about the mitochondrial production of ROS, the action of KCO's on mitochondrial ROS production and the putative link to the cytoprotective action of these drugs.
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