The incidence rates of long QT syndrome (LQTS) and drug-induced torsades de pointes (TDP) are higher in women than men. Although gonadal steroids are assumed to play an important role in the gender-based differences in cardiac electrophysiological properties, the underlying mechanisms of the gender-based differences are not fully understood. In particular I Kr, which comprises the repolarization phase of the action potential, has not been well understood in its modulation by sex hormones. To assess this, we examined the effects of the female sex hormone β-estradiol on the human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG)-encoded potassium current stably expressed in human embryonic kidney-293 (HEK) cells. We demonstrated that hERG currents were inhibited by β-estradiol maximally to 62% of control with an IC50 of 1.3 μM and a Hill coefficient of 0.87, which might account for the sex-related differences in LQTS. We also examined whether estrogen modulated drug-induced blocking effects on hERG currents or not. With simultaneous application of 10 μM erythromycin, which is known to block hERG currents but not in low doses, the blocking effects of β-estradiol on hERG currents were enhanced. Namely, hERG currents were inhibited maximally to 45.8% of control with an IC50 of 59 nM (P < 0.02) by β-estradiol with 10 μM erythromycin. We conclude here that a significant block of hERG currents by β-estradiol may account for the sex-related differences in LQTS and the synergic effects of β-estradiol and erythromycin indicate a higher risk of drug-induced TDP in women than men.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 12, 2011
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