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Herz. 1990 Apr;15(2):70-8.

[New aspects of the molecular effect of anti-arrhythmia agents].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Institut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Technischen Universität München.


Excitation propagation is mediated by the brief opening of voltage-dependent Na-channels in the plasma membranes of cells of the conduction system and working myocardium. The refractory period is a function of the re-availability of the Na-channel for renewed opening. Most antiarrhythmic agents block cardiac Na-channels and, consequently, affect the desired refractory period prolongation. At the same time, however, dependent on the concentration and the substance, they slow conduction; an effect which can facilitate reentry excitation in the injured heart. The Na-channel blocking drugs, class I antiarrhythmic agents, are distinguished from the beta-receptor blockers, class II, repolarizing prolonging drugs, class III, and the cardiac Ca-channel blocking drugs (class IV) (Table 1). MOLECULAR STRUCTURE OF THE CARDIAC NA-CHANNEL: Voltage-dependent Na-channels which have been structurally elucidated to date are glycoprotein macromolecules of about 2000 amino acids with a molecular weight of about 260,000. Beginning at the amino terminal, four consecutive homologous domains can be differentiated which are composed of six transmembranous segments each. The terminal portion of the chain as well as the connecting segments between the domains appear intracellular. There are important relationships between the molecular structure and the function of the Na-channel (Figure 1). On comparison of the primary structures of neuronal and cardiac Na-channels, domains I to IV as well as the connecting segment between domains III and IV, are nearly identical. Homology in all of the remaining molecular regions, in contrast, is less than 70%. These segments as well as the differing structure of the four S5-S6 connecting chains may be responsible for the varying functional response of the cardiac Na-channels. MOLECULAR SITE OF ACTION OF ANTIARRHYTHMIC AGENTS AT THE CARDIAC NA-CHANNEL: Since most antiarrhythmic agents are weak bases with pK values between 7.5 and 9.5, in the physiologic range of pH, they are present in part in the protonated, positively-charged form, in part as uncharged free base. It is assumed that the Na-channel of nerve and skeletal muscle has one receptor for local anesthetics at which both the protonated and the uncharged molecular forms bind. The receptor is thought to be located on the inner wall of the ion pore about half of the distance between the intracellular and the extracellular channel opening. The uncharged form of the Na-channel blocker penetrates directly from the lipid phase of the surrounding cell membrane, the protonated form only from the intracellular space during the short opening of the channel at the beginning of the action potential. Through binding on the receptor, the Na-channel is blocked. Dissociation of the molecular forms takes place in the same manner. The peptide region on which antiarrhythmic drugs bind, however, has not been identified. By means of the patch-clamp technique, it has been shown that on extracellular application of the quaternary lidocaine derivative QX-314 there is a rapid and marked reduction of Na-flux in cardiac Purkinje fibers in contrast to the effects at neuronal and skeletal muscle Na-channels. Intracellular application similarly leads to blockade but only in the course of repetitive depolarizations indicating that the cardiac Na-channel may have a second binding site for local anesthetics at the extracellular side.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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