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Nifedipine

Nifedipine has been formulated as both a long- and short-acting 1,4-dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker. It acts primarily on vascular smooth muscle cells by stabilizing voltage-gated L-type calcium channels in their inactive conformation. By inhibiting the influx of calcium in smooth muscle cells, nifedipine prevents calcium-dependent myocyte contraction and vasoconstriction. A second proposed mechanism for the drug’s vasodilatory effects involves pH-dependent inhibition of calcium influx via inhibition of smooth muscle carbonic anhydrase. Nifedipine is used to treat hypertension and chronic stable angina.

Nifedipine, the prototype of the dihydropyridine class of calcium channel blockers (CCBs), is similar to other dihydropyridines including amlodipine, felodipine, isradipine, and nicardipine. There are at least five different types of calcium channels in Homo sapiens: L-, N-, P/Q-, R- and T-type. CCBs target L-type calcium channels, the major channel in muscle cells that mediates contraction. Similar to other DHP CCBs, nifedipine binds directly to inactive calcium channels stabilizing their inactive conformation. Since arterial smooth muscle depolarizations are longer in duration than cardiac muscle depolarizations, inactive channels are more prevalent in smooth muscle cells. Alternative splicing of the alpha-1 subunit of the channel gives nifedipine additional arterial selectivity. At therapeutic sub-toxic concentrations, nifedipine has little effect on cardiac myocytes and conduction cells. By blocking the calcium channels, Nifedipine inhibits the spasm of the coronary artery and dilates the systemic arteries, results in a increase of myocardial oxygen supply and a decrease in systemic blood pressure.

Symptoms of overdose include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, severe drop in blood pressure, slurred speech, and weakness. LD50=494 mg/kg (orally in mice); LD50=1022 mg/kg (orally in rats)

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