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Chapter Three Endothelial Small- and Intermediate-Conductance K Channels and Endothelium-Dependent Hyperpolarization as Drug Targets in Cardiovascular Disease

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Endothelial calcium/calmodulin-gated K channels of small (KCa2.3) and intermediate conductance (KCa3.1) produce membrane hyperpolarization and endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization (EDH)-mediated vasodilation. Dysfunctions of the two channels and ensuing EDH impairments are found in several cardiovascular pathologies such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, postangioplastic neointima formation, but also inflammatory disease, cancer, and organ fibrosis. Moreover, KCa3.1 plays an important role in endothelial barrier dysfunction, edema formation in cardiac and pulmonary disease, and in ischemic stroke. Concerning KCa2.3, genome-wide association studies revealed an association of KCa2.3 channels with atrial fibrillation in humans. Accordingly, both channels are considered potential drug targets for cardio- and cerebrovascular disease states. In this chapter, we briefly review the function of the two channels in EDH-type vasodilation and systemic circulatory regulation and then highlight their pathophysiological roles in ischemic stroke as well as in pulmonary and brain edema. Finally, the authors summarize recent advances in the pharmacology of the channels and explore potential therapeutic utilities of novel channel modulators.

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