Nicorandil increases coronary blood flow predominantly by K-channel opening mechanism

Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1990 Aug;4(4):1119-26. doi: 10.1007/BF01856508.


Nicorandil has a hybrid property between nitrates and potassium (K)-channel openers. In order to clarify which mechanism of action is responsible for its effect in increasing coronary blood flow, we investigated how this effect was antagonized by glibenclamide, which was recently found to behave as a pharmacologic antagonist of K-channel openers. Cromakalim, one of the most specific K-channel openers currently available, and nitroglycerin were used as reference drugs. In isolated, blood-perfused papillary muscle preparations of dogs, intraarterial injections of nicorandil and cromakalim increased (coronary) blood flow, and at high doses a negative inotropic effect and ventricular fibrillation occurred. Dose-response curves for the increase in coronary blood flow produced by nicorandil or cromakalim were shifted to the right in a parallel manner and to similar extents by glibenclamide given intravenously to support dogs. Schild analysis yielded pA2 values of 6.08 and 6.34 for glibenclamide versus nicorandil and cromakalim, respectively. Nitroglycerin injected intraarterially produced only an increase in coronary blood flow. This effect was not affected by glibenclamide. These results indicate that the effect of nicorandil in increasing coronary blood flow, like that of cromakalim, is predominantly due to its mechanism of action as a K-channel opener. The negative inotropy and ventricular fibrillation seen with high doses of nicroandil and cromakalim were also antagonized by glibenclamide, indicating that these effects are also due to K-channel opening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Benzopyrans / pharmacology
  • Coronary Circulation / drug effects*
  • Cromakalim
  • Dogs
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Glyburide / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Myocardial Contraction / drug effects
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Niacinamide / pharmacology
  • Nicorandil
  • Nitroglycerin / pharmacology
  • Potassium Channels / drug effects*
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology*


  • Benzopyrans
  • Potassium Channels
  • Pyrroles
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Cromakalim
  • Niacinamide
  • Nicorandil
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Glyburide