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Heart Rate Lowering by Inhibition of the Pacemaker Current: A New Therapeutic Perspective in Cardiovascular Disease

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Several studies have demonstrated that resting heart rate is an important correlate of cardiovascular and allcause mortality and that the mortality benefit of some cardiovascular drugs seems to be related in part to their heart ratelowering effects. Since the currently available classes of drugs with heart-rate lowering effect (e.g. beta-blockers and calcium channel antagonists) also exert multiple structural and functional actions on the cardiovascular system, which may be in some cases undesired, the introduction of a new class of agents exclusively affecting the pacemaker activity of the sinus node is of particular interest. The first molecule of this class - sinus node modulators or If -current inhibitors - to reach clinical application is ivabradine. Cardiac pacemaker cells generate a spontaneous slow diastolic depolarisation that drives the membrane voltage away from a hyperpolarised level towards the threshold level for initiating a subsequent action potential, generating rhythmic action potentials that propagate through the heart and trigger myocardial contraction. The If current is an inward ionic current that determines the slope of diastolic depolarisation, which in turn controls the heart beating rate. Extensive work has amply demonstrated its involvement in the generation of spontaneous activity. The molecular basis of the generation of the pacemaker current was landmarked by the cloning of hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels, which constitute the structural units of the f-channels. This review addresses the major basic properties of cardiac f-channels, with a focus on the mode of action of If-current inhibitors and outlines the therapeutic implications of the existing research data.

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Keywords: If current; Pacemaker current; f-channels; heart rate; ivabradine; sinus rhythm

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 22, Miltiadou street, 155 61 Athens, Greece.

Publication date: October 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents in Medicinal Chemistry aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design for the discovery of new Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics in Cardiovascular & Hematological medicinal chemistry.

    Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
    is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments in cardiovascular & hematological drug discovery.
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