REVIEW Felodipine decreases arterial smooth muscle contractility and subsequent vasoconstriction by inhibiting the influx of calcium ions through voltage-gated L-type calcium channels. It reversibly competes against nitrendipine and other DHP CCBs for DHP binding sites in vascular smooth muscle and cultured rabbit atrial cells. Calcium ions entering the cell through these channels bind to calmodulin. Calcium-bound calmodulin then binds to and activates myosin light chain kinase (MLCK). Activated MLCK catalyzes the phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain subunit of myosin, a key step in muscle contraction. Signal amplification is achieved by calcium-induced calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum through ryanodine receptors. Inhibition of the initial influx of calcium decreases the contractile activity of arterial smooth muscle cells and results in vasodilation. The vasodilatory effects of felodipine result in an overall decrease in blood pressure. Felodipine may be used to treat mild to moderate essential hypertension.
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