Influence of chronic alcohol consumption on inward rectifier potassium channels in cerebral arterioles

Hong Sun, Honggang Zhao, Glenda M. Sharpe, Denise M. Arrick, William G. Mayhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Inward rectifier potassium (KIR) channels appear to play an important role in the regulation of cerebral blood flow. Our goal was to examine the influence of chronic alcohol exposure on KIR channels in cerebral arterioles. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed liquid diets with or without alcohol for 8-12 weeks. Using intravital microscope, we measured diameter of pial arterioles in response to an inhibitor, BaCl2, and an activator, KCl, of KIR channels in the absence and presence of a scavenger of reactive oxygen species, tempol, or an inhibitor of NAD(P)H oxidase, apocynin. Application of BaCl2 (30 and 100 μM) produced dose-related vasoconstriction in non-alcohol-fed, but not in alcohol-fed rats. In addition, application of KCl (3, 10, and 30 mM) produced dose-related dilation in non-alcohol-fed and alcohol-fed rats, but the magnitude of vasodilatation was less in alcohol-fed rats. In contrast, nitroglycerin-induced vasodilation was similar in non-alcohol-fed and alcohol-fed rats. Superfusion of cranial window with tempol (0.1 mM) or apocynin (1 mM) did not alter baseline diameter and nitroglycerin-induced dilation of pial arterioles in non-alcohol-fed and alcohol-fed rats but significantly improved impaired KCl-induced dilation in alcohol-fed rats. Our findings suggest that chronic alcohol consumption impairs the role of KIR channels in basal tone and KCl-induced dilation of cerebral arterioles. In addition, impaired KCl-induced dilation of cerebral arterioles during alcohol consumption may be related to enhanced release of oxygen-derived free radicals via NAD(P)H oxidase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-372
Number of pages6
JournalMicrovascular Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • Alcohol
  • Cerebral circulation
  • NAD(P)H oxidase
  • Oxidative stress
  • Potassium channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology

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