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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Differential Kv1.3, KCa3.1, and Kir2.1 expression in "classically" and "alternatively" activated microglia.

  • Author(s): Nguyen, Hai M
  • Grössinger, Eva M
  • Horiuchi, Makoto
  • Davis, Kyle W
  • Jin, Lee-Way
  • Maezawa, Izumi
  • Wulff, Heike
  • et al.

Microglia are highly plastic cells that can assume different phenotypes in response to microenvironmental signals. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) promote differentiation into classically activated M1-like microglia, which produce high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and nitric oxide and are thought to contribute to neurological damage in ischemic stroke and Alzheimer's disease. IL-4 in contrast induces a phenotype associated with anti-inflammatory effects and tissue repair. We here investigated whether these microglia subsets vary in their K+ channel expression by differentiating neonatal mouse microglia into M(LPS) and M(IL-4) microglia and studying their K+ channel expression by whole-cell patch-clamp, quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry. We identified three major types of K+ channels based on their biophysical and pharmacological fingerprints: a use-dependent, outwardly rectifying current sensitive to the KV 1.3 blockers PAP-1 and ShK-186, an inwardly rectifying Ba2+ -sensitive Kir 2.1 current, and a Ca2+ -activated, TRAM-34-sensitive KCa 3.1 current. Both KV 1.3 and KCa 3.1 blockers inhibited pro-inflammatory cytokine production and iNOS and COX2 expression demonstrating that KV 1.3 and KCa 3.1 play important roles in microglia activation. Following differentiation with LPS or a combination of LPS and IFN-γ microglia exhibited high KV 1.3 current densities (∼50 pA/pF at 40 mV) and virtually no KCa 3.1 and Kir currents, while microglia differentiated with IL-4 exhibited large Kir 2.1 currents (∼ 10 pA/pF at -120 mV). KCa 3.1 currents were generally low but moderately increased following stimulation with IFN-γ or ATP (∼10 pS/pF). This differential K+ channel expression pattern suggests that KV 1.3 and KCa 3.1 inhibitors could be used to inhibit detrimental neuroinflammatory microglia functions. GLIA 2016;65:106-121.

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