Activation of barium-sensitive inward rectifier potassium channels mediates remote dilation of coronary arterioles

Richard J. Rivers, Travis W. Hein, Cuihua Zhang, Lih Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background - Conducted vasodilation seems to be critical for the functional distribution of blood flow in the skeletal muscle microcirculation. However, this vasoregulatory phenomenon has not been documented in the coronary microcirculation, and its underlying mechanism remains elusive. Because potassium ions are potent metabolic vasodilators in the heart, by activating vascular inward rectifier K+ (Kir) channels, we tested the hypothesis that coronary arterioles exhibit remote vasodilation through activation of this type of channel. Methods and Results - Porcine coronary arterioles were isolated, cannulated, and pressurized for in vitro study. Vessels dilated concentration-dependently to extraluminal KCl (5 to 20 mmol/L), bradykinin, adenosine, pinacidil, and sodium nitroprusside. A Kir channel blocker, BaCl2 (30 μmol/L), inhibited vasodilatory responses to KCl and bradykinin but not to adenosine, pinacidil, or nitroprusside. In a flow chamber, localized administration of bradykinin, adenosine, and KCl to the downstream end of the arterioles caused ≈80% dilation at the site of drug application (local site) and also produced 30% to 60% dilation at the upstream end of arterioles (remote site). Nitroprusside produced a similar dilation at the local site but failed to initiate remote vasodilation. In the presence of Ba2+, adenosine still dilated the local site, but the local dilations to bradykinin and KCl and the remote dilations to adenosine, bradykinin, and KCl were inhibited. Conclusions - We demonstrated that some modes of local vasodilation can be conducted to remote sites in coronary arterioles and that local and remote dilations can occur through different vasodilatory mechanisms. Activation of Kir channels seems critical for some agonist-induced local vasodilations and also for the initiation and/or transmission of signals causing remote vasodilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1749-1753
Number of pages5
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 9 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Ion channels
  • Microcirculation
  • Physiology
  • Potassium
  • Vasodilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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