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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Nov 20;98(24):13942-7.

Selective blockade of T lymphocyte K(+) channels ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a model for multiple sclerosis.

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Laboratoire d'Immunologie, Faculté de Médecine, 13385 Marseille, France.


Adoptive transfer experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (AT-EAE), a disease resembling multiple sclerosis, is induced in rats by myelin basic protein (MBP)-activated CD4(+) T lymphocytes. By patch-clamp analysis, encephalitogenic rat T cells stimulated repeatedly in vitro expressed a unique channel phenotype ("chronically activated") with large numbers of Kv1.3 voltage-gated channels (approximately 1500 per cell) and small numbers of IKCa1 Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels (approximately 50-120 per cell). In contrast, resting T cells displayed 0-10 Kv1.3 and 10-20 IKCa1 channels per cell ("quiescent" phenotype), whereas T cells stimulated once or twice expressed approximately 200 Kv1.3 and approximately 350 IKCa1 channels per cell ("acutely activated" phenotype). Consistent with their channel phenotype, [(3)H]thymidine incorporation by MBP-stimulated chronically activated T cells was suppressed by the peptide ShK, a blocker of Kv1.3 and IKCa1, and by an analog (ShK-Dap(22)) engineered to be highly specific for Kv1.3, but not by a selective IKCa1 blocker (TRAM-34). The combination of ShK-Dap(22) and TRAM-34 enhanced the suppression of MBP-stimulated T cell proliferation. Based on these in vitro results, we assessed the efficacy of K(+) channel blockers in AT-EAE. Specific and simultaneous blockade of the T cell channels by ShK or by a combination of ShK-Dap(22) plus TRAM-34 prevented lethal AT-EAE. Blockade of Kv1.3 alone with ShK-Dap(22), but not of IKCa1 with TRAM-34, was also effective. When administered after the onset of symptoms, ShK or the combination of ShK-Dap(22) plus TRAM-34 greatly ameliorated the clinical course of both moderate and severe AT-EAE. We conclude that selective targeting of Kv1.3, alone or with IKCa1, may provide an effective new mode of therapy for multiple sclerosis.

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