Differential effects of amiodarone and desethylamiodarone on calcium antagonist receptors
Amiodarone and its pharmacologically active metabolite desethylamiodarone have a sodium channel blocking action that explains some of their antiarrhythmic efficacy. However, the well-documented depression of the calcium channel-dependent sinus node and atrioventricular node function that occurs with amiodarone therapy suggests that amiodarone also blocks calcium influx through voltage-dependent calcium channels. Recent electrophysiologic data support the notion that amiodarone, but not desethylamiodarone, acts as a calcium channel antagonist. In this study, the effects of amiodarone and desethylamiodarone on calcium antagonist receptors associated with the voltage-dependent calcium channels were characterized. Amiodarone, but not its active metabolite desethylamiodarone, was a potent competitor at dihydropyridine and phenylalkylamine (verapamil-like) calcium antagonist binding sites in rat heart, brain, and skeletal and smooth muscles. Substantial inhibition of calcium antagonist binding was retained even after extensive washing of membranes and 2 days after in vivo treatment of rats with amiodarone. The pattern of inhibition of calcium antagonist binding suggests that amiodarone acts at phenylalkylamine binding sites. It is suggested that the acute effects of amiodarone--sinus and atrioventricular node inhibition, vasodilatation, and negative inotropic actions--may reflect calcium antagonist influences of amiodarone itself. Chronic effects of drug therapy, such as inhibition of ventricular conduction by sodium channel blockade, may selectively involve desethylamiodarone.