The potassium channel KCa3.1 constitutes a pharmacological target for neuroinflammation associated with ischemia/reperfusion stroke.

Research paper by Yi-Je YJ Chen, Hai M HM Nguyen, Izumi I Maezawa, Eva M EM Grössinger, April L AL Garing, Ralf R Köhler, Lee-Way LW Jin, Heike H Wulff

Indexed on: 15 Dec '15Published on: 15 Dec '15Published in: Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism


Activated microglia/macrophages significantly contribute to the secondary inflammatory damage in ischemic stroke. Cultured neonatal microglia express the K(+) channels Kv1.3 and KCa3.1, both of which have been reported to be involved in microglia-mediated neuronal killing, oxidative burst and cytokine production. However, it is questionable whether neonatal cultures accurately reflect the K(+) channel expression of activated microglia in the adult brain. We here subjected mice to middle cerebral artery occlusion with eight days of reperfusion and patch-clamped acutely isolated microglia/macrophages. Microglia from the infarcted area exhibited higher densities of K(+) currents with the biophysical and pharmacological properties of Kv1.3, KCa3.1 and Kir2.1 than microglia from non-infarcted control brains. Similarly, immunohistochemistry on human infarcts showed strong Kv1.3 and KCa3.1 immunoreactivity on activated microglia/macrophages. We next investigated the effect of genetic deletion and pharmacological blockade of KCa3.1 in reversible middle cerebral artery occlusion. KCa3.1(-/-) mice and wild-type mice treated with the KCa3.1 blocker TRAM-34 exhibited significantly smaller infarct areas on day-8 after middle cerebral artery occlusion and improved neurological deficit. Both manipulations reduced microglia/macrophage activation and brain cytokine levels. Our findings suggest KCa3.1 as a pharmacological target for ischemic stroke. Of potential, clinical relevance is that KCa3.1 blockade is still effective when initiated 12 h after the insult.