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Diabetes. 2014 Oct;63(10):3545-56. doi: 10.2337/db13-1562. Epub 2014 May 8.

Blockade of Na+ channels in pancreatic α-cells has antidiabetic effects.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Cardiovascular Therapeutic Area, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Fremont, CA arvinder.dhalla@gilead.com.
  • 2Department of Biology, Cardiovascular Therapeutic Area, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Fremont, CA.

Abstract

Pancreatic α-cells express voltage-gated Na(+) channels (NaChs), which support the generation of electrical activity leading to an increase in intracellular calcium, and cause exocytosis of glucagon. Ranolazine, a NaCh blocker, is approved for treatment of angina. In addition to its antianginal effects, ranolazine has been shown to reduce HbA1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease; however, the mechanism behind its antidiabetic effect has been unclear. We tested the hypothesis that ranolazine exerts its antidiabetic effects by inhibiting glucagon release via blockade of NaChs in the pancreatic α-cells. Our data show that ranolazine, via blockade of NaChs in pancreatic α-cells, inhibits their electrical activity and reduces glucagon release. We found that glucagon release in human pancreatic islets is mediated by the Nav1.3 isoform. In animal models of diabetes, ranolazine and a more selective NaCh blocker (GS-458967) lowered postprandial and basal glucagon levels, which were associated with a reduction in hyperglycemia, confirming that glucose-lowering effects of ranolazine are due to the blockade of NaChs. This mechanism of action is unique in that no other approved antidiabetic drugs act via this mechanism, and raises the prospect that selective Nav1.3 blockers may constitute a novel approach for the treatment of diabetes.

© 2014 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.

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