Polyunsaturated fatty acids are potent openers of human M-channels expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes

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AIM: Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been reported to reduce neuronal excitability, in part by promoting inactivation of voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels. Effects on neuronal potassium channels are less explored and experimental data ambiguous. The aim of this study was to investigate anti-excitable effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids on the neuronal M-channel, important for setting the resting membrane potential in hippocampal and dorsal root ganglion neurons.

METHODS: Effects of fatty acids and fatty-acid analogues on mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons and on the human KV 7.2/3 channel expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes were studied using electrophysiology.

RESULTS: Extracellular application of physiologically relevant concentrations of the polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid hyperpolarized the resting membrane potential (-2.4 mV by 30 μM) and increased the threshold current to evoke action potentials in dorsal root ganglion neurons. The polyunsaturated fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid, α-linolenic acid, and eicosapentaenoic acid facilitated opening of the human M-channel, comprised of the heteromeric human KV 7.2/3 channel expressed in Xenopus oocytes, by shifting the conductance-versus-voltage curve towards more negative voltages (by -7.4 to -11.3 mV by 70 μM). Uncharged docosahexaenoic acid methyl ester and monounsaturated oleic acid did not facilitate opening of the human KV 7.2/3 channel.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that circulating polyunsaturated fatty acids, with a minimum requirement of multiple double bonds and a charged carboxyl group, dampen excitability by opening neuronal M-channels. Collectively, our data bring light to the molecular targets of polyunsaturated fatty acids and thus a possible mechanism by which polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce neuronal excitability. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Physiologica (Print)
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2016

ID: 160457372