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BACKGROUND: Urocortin is a novel cardioprotective agent that can protect cardiac myocytes from the damaging effects of ischemia/reperfusion both in culture and in the intact heart and is effective when given at reperfusion. METHODS AND RESULTS: We have analyzed global changes in gene expression in cardiac myocytes after urocortin treatment using gene chip technology. We report that urocortin specifically induces enhanced expression of the Kir 6.1 cardiac potassium channel subunit. On the basis of this finding, we showed that the cardioprotective effect of urocortin both in isolated cardiac cells and in the intact heart is specifically blocked by both generalized and mitochondrial-specific K(ATP) channel blockers, whereas the cardioprotective effect of cardiotrophin-1 is unaffected. Conversely, inhibiting the Kir 6.1 channel subunit greatly enhances cardiac cell death after ischemia. CONCLUSIONS: This is, to our knowledge, the first report of the altered expression of a K(ATP) channel subunit induced by a cardioprotective agent and demonstrates that K(ATP) channel opening is essential for the effect of this novel cardioprotective agent.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1556 - 1562


Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Cardiotonic Agents, Cell Death, Cell Hypoxia, Cells, Cultured, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone, Cytokines, Gene Expression Profiling, Myocardial Reperfusion Injury, Myocardium, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying, RNA, Messenger, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Transcriptional Activation, Urocortins