Sex-specific IKAS activation in rabbit ventricles with drug-induced QT prolongation


      Female sex is a known risk factor for drug-induced long QT syndrome (diLQTS). We recently demonstrated a sex difference in apamin-sensitive small-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ current (IKAS) activation during β-adrenergic stimulation.


      The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that there is a sex difference in IKAS in the rabbit models of diLQTS.


      We evaluated the sex difference in ventricular repolarization in 15 male and 22 female Langendorff-perfused rabbit hearts with optical mapping techniques during atrial pacing. HMR1556 (slowly activating delayed rectifier K+ current [IKs] blocker), E4031 (rapidly activating delayed rectifier K+ current [IKr] blocker) and sea anemone toxin (ATX-II, late Na+ current [INaL] activator) were used to simulate types 1-3 long QT syndrome, respectively. Apamin, an IKAS blocker, was then added to determine the magnitude of further QT prolongation.


      HMR1556, E4031, and ATX-II led to the prolongation of action potential duration at 80% repolarization (APD80) in both male and female ventricles at pacing cycle lengths of 300–400 ms. Apamin further prolonged APD80 (pacing cycle length 350 ms) from 187.8±4.3 to 206.9±7.1 (P=.014) in HMR1556-treated, from 209.9±7.8 to 224.9±7.8 (P=.003) in E4031-treated, and from 174.3±3.3 to 188.1±3.0 (P=.0002) in ATX-II–treated female hearts. Apamin did not further prolong the APD80 in male hearts. The Cai transient duration (CaiTD) was significantly longer in diLQTS than baseline but without sex differences. Apamin did not change CaiTD.


      We conclude that IKAS is abundantly increased in female but not in male ventricles with diLQTS. Increased IKAS helps preserve the repolarization reserve in female ventricles treated with IKs and IKr blockers or INaL activators.


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