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J Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Sep 20;123(1):67-77. Epub 2013 Sep 3.

Effect of azelastine on cardiac repolarization of guinea-pig cardiomyocytes, hERG K⁺ channel, and human L-type and T-type Ca²⁺ channel.

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Department of Physiology, Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Kangwon National University College of Medicine, Korea.


Azelastine is a second generation histamine H₁-receptor antagonist used as an anti-asthmatic and anti-allergic drug that can induce QT prolongation and torsades de pointes. We investigated the acute effects of azelastine on human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) channels, action potential duration (APD), and L-type (I(Ca,L)) and T-type Ca²⁺ current (I(Ca,T)) to determine the electrophysiological basis for its proarrhythmic potential. Azelastine increased the APD at 90% of repolarization concentration dependently, with an IC₅₀ of 1.08 nM in guinea-pig ventricular myocytes. We examined the effects of azelastine on the hERG channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes and HEK293 cells using two-microelectrode voltage-clamp and patch-clamp techniques. Azelastine induced a concentration-dependent decrease of the hERG current amplitude at the end of the voltage steps and tail currents. The IC₅₀ for the azelastine-induced block of the hERG currents expressed in HEK293 cells was 11.43 nM, while the drug inhibited I(Ca,L) and I(Ca,T) with IC₅₀ values of 7.60 and 26.21 μM, respectively. The S6 domain mutations, Y652A partially attenuated and F656A abolished hERG current block. These results suggest that azelastine is a potent blocker of hERG channels rather than I(Ca,L) or I(Ca,T), providing molecular mechanisms for the arrhythmogenic side effects during the clinical administration of azelastine.

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