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Capsaicin is a naturally occurring alkaloid derived from chili pepper which is responsible for its hot, pungent taste. It exerts multiple pharmacological actions, including pain-relieving, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and antioxidant effects. Previous studies have shown that capsaicin significantly affects the contractility and automaticity of the heart and alters cardiovascular functions. In this study, the effects of capsaicin were investigated on voltage-gated ion currents in rabbit ventricular myocytes. Capsaicin inhibited rapidly activated (IKr) and slowly activated (IKs) K+ currents and transient outward (Ito) K+ current with IC50 values of 3.4 µM,14.7 µM, and 9.6 µM, respectively. In addition, capsaicin, at higher concentrations, suppressed voltage-gated Na+ and Ca2+ currents and inward rectifier IK1 current with IC50 values of 42.7 µM, 34.9 µM, and 38.8 µM, respectively. Capsaicin inhibitions of INa, IL-Ca, IKr, IKs, Ito, and IK1 were not reversed in the presence of capsazepine (3 µM), a TRPV1 antagonist. The inhibitory effects of capsaicin on these currents developed gradually, reaching steady-state levels within 3 to 6 min, and the recoveries were usually incomplete during washout. In concentration-inhibition curves, apparent Hill coefficients higher than unity suggested multiple interaction sites of capsaicin on these channels. Collectively, these findings indicate that capsaicin affects cardiac electrophysiology by acting on a diverse range of ion channels and suggest that caution should be exercised when capsaicin is administered to carriers of cardiac channelopathies or to individuals with arrhythmia-prone conditions, such as ischemic heart diseases.


This article was originally published in Pharmaceuticals, volume 15, in 2022.


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