Functional and pharmacological consequences of the distribution of voltage-gated calcium channels inthe renal blood vessels

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Calcium channel blockers are widely used to treat hypertension because they inhibit voltage-gated calcium channels that mediate transmembrane calcium influx in, for example, vascular smooth muscle and cardiomyocytes. The calcium channel family consists of several subfamilies, of which the L-type is usually associated with vascular contractility. However, the L-, T- and P-/Q-types of calcium channels are present in the renal vasculature and are differentially involved in controlling vascular contractility, thereby contributing to regulation of kidney function and blood pressure. In the preglomerular vascular bed, all the three channel families are present. However, the T-type channel is the only channel in cortical efferent arterioles which is in contrast to the juxtamedullary efferent arteriole, and that leads to diverse functional effects of L- and T-type channel inhibition. Furthermore, by different mechanisms, T-type channels may contribute to both constriction and dilation of the arterioles. Finally, P-/Q-type channels are involved in the regulation of human intrarenal arterial contractility. The calcium blockers used in the clinic affect not only L-type but also P-/Q- and T-type channels. Therefore, the distinct effect obtained by inhibiting a given subtype or set of channels under experimental settings should be considered when choosing a calcium blocker for treatment. T-type channels seem to be crucial for regulating the GFR and the filtration fraction. Use of blockers is expected to lead to preferential efferent vasodilation, reduction of glomerular pressure and proteinuria. Therefore, renovascular T-type channels might provide novel therapeutic targets, and may have superior renoprotective effects compared to conventional calcium blockers.

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