Clevidipine, a dihydropyridine (DHP) analogue, lowers blood pressure (BP) by inhibiting L-type calcium channels (CaV1.2; gene CACNA1C) predominantly located in vascular smooth muscle (VSM). However, clinical observations suggest that clevidipine acts by a more complex mechanism. Clevidipine more potently reduces pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) than systemic vascular resistance and its spectrum of effects on PVR are not shared by other DHPs. Clevidipine has potent spasmolytic effects in peripheral arteries at doses that are sub-clinical for BP lowering and, in hypertensive acute heart failure, clevidipine, but not other DHPs, provides dyspnea relief, partially independent of BP reduction. These observations suggest that a molecular variation in CaV1.2 may exist which confers unique pharmacology to different DHPs. We sequenced CACNA1C transcripts from human lungs and measured their affinity for clevidipine. Human lung tissue contains CACNA1C mRNA with many different splice variations. CaV1.2 channels with a specific combination of variable exons showed higher affinity for clevidipine, well below the concentration associated with BP reduction. Co-expression with pannexin 1 further increased the clevidipine affinity for this CaV1.2 splice variant. A high-affinity splice variant of CaV1.2 in combination with pannexin 1 could underlie the selective effects of clevidipine on pulmonary arterial pressure and on dyspnea. Research in Context Clevidipine lowers blood pressure by inhibiting calcium channels in vascular smooth muscle. In patients with acute heart failure, clevidipine was shown to relieve breathing problems. This was only partially related to the blood pressure lowering actions of clevidipine and not conferred by another calcium channel inhibitor. We here found calcium channel variants in human lung that are more selectively inhibited by clevidipine, especially when associated with pannexin channels. This study gives a possible mechanism for clevidipine's relief of breathing problems and supports future clinical trials testing the role of clevidipine in the treatment of acute heart failure.
- Hypertensive heart failure
- Voltage-gated calcium channels
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)