Roles of kappa opioid receptors in cardioprotection against ischemia--the signaling mechanisms

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Tak Ming WONG()
Song WU()
Journal Title:
Volume 55, Issue 02, 2003
Key Word:
kappa opioid receptor;myocardial ischemia;β-adrenoceptor;ischemic preconditioning

Abstract: There is evidence that the myocytes produce dynorphin and dynorphin-like peptides, which are kappa opioid receptor (κ-OR) agonists. Activation of κ-OR, a dominant opioid receptor in the heart, alters the cardiac function in vivo and in vitro. The observations suggest that the endogenous κ-opioid peptides may act as autocrines or paracrine in regulation of cardiac functions. Myocardial ischemia is a common cause of heart disorders, which is manifested in decreased myocardial performance, arrhythmia and infarct. When myocardial ischemia occurs, the sympathetic discharge increases, which in turn increases the work-load and oxygen consumption. This exacerbates the situation induced by ischemia. One of the mechanisms with which the body protects against ischemia-induced injury/arrhythmia is inhibition of stimulation of β-adrenoceptor (β-AR), the receptor mediating the actions of sympathetic stimulation. Κ-Opioids inhibit the β-AR activation. The inhibition of the β-AR activation is due to inhibition of Gs-protein and to a lesser extent the adenylyl cyclase of the signaling pathway mediating β-AR stimulation by a pertussis sensitive G-protein that mediates κ-OR activation. Another mechanism against ischemia-induced injury is preconditioning, which is defined as prior exposures to ischemia or other insults make the heart more tolerant to subsequent and more severe insults. Protection occurs immediately or 1-3 days after preconditioning. Κ-OR mediates protection of preconditioning with ischemia or metabolic inhibition, one of the consequences of ischemia, in the heart. Activation of κ-OR by U50488H, a selective κ-OR agonist (pharmacological preconditioning with U50488H, UP), activates protein kinase C (PKC), opens KATP channels and increases the production of heat shock proteins. Blockade of PKC, or closing of the KATP channels or inhibition of the synthesis of the heat shock protein abolishes the cardioprotection of UP. The findings indicate the important roles of PKC, the KATP channels and the heat shock protein in cardioprotection of UP. In addition, UP also attenuates the Ca2+ overload, a precipitating cause of cardiac injury, induced by ischemic insults, indicating that UP may confer cardioprotection via at least partly attenuating the Ca2+ overload. Most interestingly, blockade of the KATP channels with channel blockers, that abolishes the delayed cardioprotection of UP, also attenuates the inhibitory effect of UP on Ca2+ overload, suggesting that the cardioprotective effect of opening of the KATP channels may be due at least partly to the prevention/attenuation of Ca2+ overload.

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