Clinical studies demonstrate that combined administration of sulfonylureas with exenatide can induce hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetic subjects. Whereas sulfonylureas inhibit ß-cell K(ATP) channels by binding to the sulfonylurea receptor-1 (SUR1), exenatide binds to the GLP-1 receptor, stimulates ß-cell cAMP production and activates both PKA and Epac. In this study, we hypothesized that the adverse in vivo interaction of sulfonylureas and exenatide to produce hypoglycemia might be explained by Epac-mediated facilitation of K(ATP) channel sulfonylurea sensitivity. We now report that the inhibitory action of a sulfonylurea (tolbutamide) at K(ATP) channels was facilitated by 2’-O-Me-cAMP, a selective activator of Epac. Thus, under conditions of excised patch recording, the dose-response relationship describing the inhibitory action of tolbutamide at human ß-cell or rat INS-1 cell K(ATP) channels was left-shifted in the presence of 2’-O-Me-cAMP, and this effect was abolished in INS-1 cells expressing a dominant-negative Epac2. Using an acetoxymethyl ester prodrug of an Epac-selective cAMP analog (8-pCP T-2’-O-Me-cAMP-AM), the synergistic interaction of an Epac activator and tolbutamide to depolarize INS-1 cells and to raise [Ca²(+)](i) was also measured. This effect of 8-pCP T-2’-O-Me-cAMP-AM correlated with its ability to stimulate phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate hydrolysis that might contribute to the changes in K(ATP) channel sulfonylurea-sensitivity reported here. On the basis of such findings, we propose that the adverse interaction of sulfonylureas and exenatide to induce hypoglycemia involves at least in part, a functional interaction of these two compounds to close K(ATP) channels, to depolarize ß-cells and to promote insulin secretion.
Keywords: Epac; GLP-1; K-ATP channel; cAMP; drug interaction; sulfonylurea.