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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003 May;305(2):502-6. Epub 2003 Jan 21.

Block of Na+,K+-ATPase and induction of hybrid death by 4-aminopyridine in cultured cortical neurons.

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Center for the Study of Nervous System Injury and Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


K(+) channel blockers such as 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) can be toxic to neurons; the cellular mechanism underlying the toxicity, however, is obscure. In cultured mouse cortical neurons, we tested the hypothesis that the toxic effect of 4-AP might result from inhibiting the Na(+),K(+)-ATPase (Na(+),K(+)-pump) and thereafter induction of a hybrid death of concomitant apoptosis and necrosis. The Na(+),K(+)-pump activity, monitored as whole-cell membrane currents, was markedly blocked by 4-AP in concentration- and voltage-dependent manners in low millimolar ranges. At similar concentrations, 4-AP induced a neuronal death sensitive to attenuation by the caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK (Z-Val-Ala-Asp(OMe)-fluoromethyl ketone) or Ca(2+) chelator BAPTA-AM (1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid-acetoxymethyl ester). Electron microscopy confirmed hybrid ultrastructural features of coexisting apoptotic and necrotic components in same cells. We suggest that 4-AP is a potent antagonist of the Na(+),K(+)-ATPase and an inducer of the hybrid death of central neurons.

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