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The aim of this study was to determine whether antimalarial agents inhibit ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channels and thereby contribute to the observed side-effects of these drugs. Mefloquine (10 - 100 microM), but not artenusate (100 microM), stimulated insulin release from pancreatic islets in vitro. Macroscopic K(ATP) currents were studied in inside-out patches excised from Xenopus oocytes expressing cloned K(ATP) channels. Mefloquine (IC(50) approximately 3 microM), quinine (IC(50) approximately 3 microM), and chloroquine inhibited the pancreatic beta-cell type of K(ATP) channel Kir6.2/SUR1. Artenusate (100 microM) was without effect. Mefloquine and quinine also blocked a truncated form of Kir6.2 (Kir6. 2DeltaC36) when expressed in the absence of SUR1. The extent of block was similar to that observed for Kir6.2/SUR1 currents. Our results suggest that inhibition of the beta-cell K(ATP) channel accounts for the ability of quinoline-based antimalarial drugs to stimulate insulin secretion, and thereby produce hypoglycaemia. The results also indicate that quinoline-based antimalarial agents inhibit K(ATP) channels by interaction with the Kir6.2 subunit. This subunit is common to beta-cell, neuronal, cardiac, skeletal muscle, and some smooth muscle K(ATP) channels suggesting that K(ATP) channel inhibition may contribute to the other side effects of these drugs, which include cardiac conduction abnormalities and neuropsychiatric disturbances.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Pharmacol

Publication Date





756 - 760


Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Antimalarials, Female, Insulin, Mefloquine, Mice, Potassium Channels, Quinine, Rats, Xenopus laevis