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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004 Jun;286(6):L1154-60. Epub 2004 Jan 16.

Hypoxia-induced inhibition of whole cell membrane currents and ion transport of A549 cells.

Author information

  • 1Section III-Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Clinic and Policlinic, University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004 Oct;31(4):L890.


In excitable cells, hypoxia inhibits K channels, causes membrane depolarization, and initiates complex adaptive mechanisms. It is unclear whether K channels of alveolar epithelial cells reveal a similar response to hypoxia. A549 cells were exposed to hypoxia during whole cell patch-clamp measurements. Hypoxia reversibly inhibited a voltage-dependent outward current, consistent with a K current, because tetraethylamonium (TEA; 10 mM) abolished this effect; however, iberiotoxin (0.1 microM) does not. In normoxia, TEA and iberiotoxin inhibited whole cell current (-35%), whereas the K-channel inhibitors glibenclamide (1 microM), barium (1 mM), chromanol B293 (10 microM), and 4-aminopyridine (1 mM) were ineffective. (86)Rb uptake was measured to see whether K-channel modulation also affected transport activity. TEA, iberiotoxin, and 4-h hypoxia (1.5% O(2)) inhibited total (86)Rb uptake by 40, 20, and 35%, respectively. Increased extracellular K also inhibited (86)Rb uptake in a dose-dependent way. The K-channel opener 1-ethyl-2-benzimidazolinone (1 mM) increased (86)Rb uptake by 120% in normoxic and hypoxic cells by activation of Na-K pumps (+60%) and Na-K-2Cl cotransport (+170%). However, hypoxic transport inhibition was also seen in the presence of 1-ethyl-2-benzimidazolinone, TEA, and iberiotoxin. These results indicate that hypoxia, membrane depolarization, and K-channel inhibition decrease whole cell membrane currents and transport activity. It appears, therefore, that a hypoxia-induced change in membrane conductance and membrane potential might be a link between hypoxia and alveolar ion transport inhibition.

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