Testosterone relaxes coronary arteries by opening the large-conductance, calcium-activated potassium channel. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cardiovascular diseases are often considered to be a predominantly male health problem, and it has been suggested that testosterone exerts deleterious effects on cardiovascular function; however, few experimental studies support this suggestion. Moreover, the cellular and molecular mechanism(s) underlying vascular responses to testosterone is unknown. The present study has investigated the acute effects of testosterone on porcine coronary artery smooth muscle at the tissue and cellular levels. Contractile studies demonstrated that testosterone or dihydrotestosterone (a nonaromatizable metabolite) relaxed these arteries by an endothelium-independent mechanism involving potassium efflux. Direct evidence from patch-clamp studies confirmed that testosterone opened K(+) channels in single coronary myocytes, and further analysis identified this protein as the large-conductance, calcium- and voltage-activated potassium (BK(Ca)) channel. Moreover, inhibiting BK(Ca) channel activity significantly attenuated testosterone-induced coronary relaxation. These findings indicate that testosterone relaxes porcine coronary arteries predominantly by opening BK(Ca) channels in coronary myocytes, and this response may be associated with accumulation of cGMP. This novel mechanism may provide a better understanding of testosterone-induced vasorelaxation reported in recent experimental and early clinical studies.

published proceedings

  • Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Deenadayalu, V. P., White, R. E., Stallone, J. N., Gao, X., & Garcia, A. J.

citation count

  • 177

complete list of authors

  • Deenadayalu, VP||White, RE||Stallone, JN||Gao, X||Garcia, AJ

publication date

  • October 2001