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Neurosci Bull. 2011 Feb;27(1):36-44. doi: 10.1007/s12264-011-1048-y.

Potassium channel blockers as an effective treatment to restore impulse conduction in injured axons.

Author information

  • 1Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA. riyi@purdue.edu


Most axons in the vertebral central nervous system are myelinated by oligodendrocytes. Myelin protects and insulates neuronal processes, enabling the fast, saltatory conduction unique to myelinated axons. Myelin disruption resulting from trauma and biochemical reaction is a common pathological event in spinal cord injury and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Myelin damage-induced axonal conduction block is considered to be a significant contributor to the devastating neurological deficits resulting from trauma and illness. Potassium channels are believed to play an important role in axonal conduction failure in spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. Myelin damage has been shown to unmask potassium channels, creating aberrant potassium currents that inhibit conduction. Potassium channel blockade reduces this ionic leakage and improves conduction. The present review was mainly focused on the development of this technique of restoring axonal conduction and neurological function of demyelinated axons. The drug 4-aminopyridine has recently shown clinical success in treating multiple sclerosis symptoms. Further translational research has also identified several novel potassium channel blockers that may prove effective in restoring axonal conduction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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