Blocking T-type calcium channels with tetrandrine inhibits steroidogenesis in bovine adrenal glomerulosa cells
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Tetrandrine, an alkaloid extracted from a Chinese medicinal herb traditionally used in hypertension treatment, inhibited aldosterone production induced in bovine adrenal glomerulosa cells by either potassium ion, angiotensin II, or ACTH in a concentration-dependent manner (IC50 = 10 microM). The inhibition of the response to potassium by tetrandrine had a pattern very similar to that of nickel, a blocker of T-type calcium channels. In addition, tetrandrine prevented calcium influx induced by potassium or angiotensin II without affecting the calcium release phase stimulated by the hormone. The effect of tetrandrine on voltage-activated barium currents was investigated using the whole cell configuration of the patch clamp technique. T-type currents were isolated by recording the slowly deactivating currents elicited during repolarization of the cell to -65 mV after various depolarizing pulses. These currents were blocked by micromolar concentrations of the drug. The voltage sensitivity of channel activation was not affected by tetrandrine; nevertheless, the drug significantly slowed the deactivation of the current. The action of tetrandrine did not require the activation of the channel. Tetrandrine also affected L-type currents, as assessed after inactivating T channels for 100 msec, but at higher concentrations of the drug. Thus, tetrandrine affects with a similar potency aldosterone production, calcium influx, and T-type calcium channel activity. This finding strongly suggests a role for these channels in calcium signaling and control of steroidogenesis in adrenal glomerulosa cells.