Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's archives of pharmacology

Clotrimazole and efaroxan stimulate insulin secretion by different mechanisms in rat pancreatic islets.

PMID 9453462


It is now well established that the imidazoline insulin secretagogue efaroxan mediates its effects by inducing closure of ATP-sensitive potassium channels in the pancreatic beta-cell, leading to membrane depolarisation, Ca2+ influx and increased insulin secretion. However, a recent study has shown that efaroxan may also act as a blocker of a second class of potassium channel (the Kmaxi channel) in red blood cells, raising the possibility that its effects in islets could be mediated by interactions with both types of channel. Since the antimycotic imidazole compound clotrimazole is a highly potent blocker of Kmaxi channels, we have studied the effects of this drug on insulin secretion. Clotrimazole stimulated insulin secretion from rat islets of Langerhans incubated in the presence of 6 mM glucose, in a dose-dependent manner. Experiments performed at different glucose concentrations showed that the actions of clotrimazole were most prominent at low glucose concentrations whereas it did not enhance secretion beyond the rate induced by 20 mM glucose. The insulinotropic action of clotrimazole was temperature dependent but was independent of extracellular calcium. Clotrimazole appeared to block ATP-sensitive potassium channels in islets since, like efaroxan and glibencamide, it was able to prevent the inhibitory effects of diazoxide on glucose-induced insulin secretion. However, neither the direct stimulatory effect of clotrimazole on insulin release nor the abilty of clotrimazole to reverse the inhibitory actions of diazoxide was sensitive to blockade by the imidazoline secretagogue antagonist KU14R. Overall, the results suggest that clotrimazole exerts an insulinotropic effect in pancreatic beta-cells that is distinct from the actions of imidazoline secretagogues such as efaroxan. Clotrimazole can increase insulin secretion at sub-maximal glucose concentrations by an action which appears to be independent of membrane ion channel events.

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Efaroxan hydrochloride, ≥98% (HPLC)
C13H16N2O · HCl