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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003 Jul;306(1):84-92. Epub 2003 Mar 26.

Amide local anesthetics potently inhibit the human tandem pore domain background K+ channel TASK-2 (KCNK5).

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  • 1Attending Physician, Department of Anesthesia, University Clinics, Kantonsspital, CH-4031 Basel, Switzerland.


Blockade of voltage-gated sodium (Na+) channels by local anesthetics represents the main mechanism for inhibition of impulse propagation. Local anesthetic-induced potassium (K+) channel inhibition is also known to influence transmission of sensory impulses and to potentiate inhibition. K+ channels involved in this mechanism may belong to the emerging family of background tandem pore domain K+ channels (2P K+ channels). To determine more precisely the effects of local anesthetics on members of this ion channel family, we heterologously expressed the 2P K+ channels TASK-2 (KCNK5), TASK-1 (KCNK3), and chimeric TASK-1/TASK-2 channels in oocytes of Xenopus laevis. TASK-2 cDNA-transfected HEK 293 cells were used for single-channel recordings. Local anesthetic inhibition of TASK-2 was dose-dependent, agent-specific, and stereoselective. The IC50 values for R-(+)-bupivacaine and S-(-)-bupivacaine were 17 and 43 micro M and for R-(+)-ropivacaine and S-(-)-ropivacaine, 85 and 236 micro M. Lidocaine (1 mM) inhibited TASK-2 currents by 55 +/- 4%, whereas its quaternary positively charged analog N-ethyl lidocaine (QX314) had no effect. Bupivacaine (100 micro M) decreased channel open probability from 20.8 +/- 1.6% to 5.6 +/- 2.2%. Local anesthetics [300 micro M R-(+)-bupivacaine] caused significantly greater depolarization of the resting membrane potential of TASK-2-expressing oocytes compared with water-injected control oocytes (15.8 +/- 2.5 mV versus 0.1 +/- 0.05 mV; p < 0.001). Chimeric TASK-1/TASK-2 2P K+ channel subunits that retained pH sensitivity demonstrated that the carboxy domain of TASK-2 mediates the greater local anesthetic sensitivity of TASK-2. These results show that clinically achievable concentrations of local anesthetics inhibit background K+ channel function and may thereby enhance conduction blockade.

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