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J Toxicol. 2012;2012:756358. doi: 10.1155/2012/756358. Epub 2012 Jun 4.

Towards therapeutic applications of arthropod venom k(+)-channel blockers in CNS neurologic diseases involving memory acquisition and storage.

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Departamento de Ciências Fisiológicas, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de Brasília, 70910-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil.


Potassium channels are the most heterogeneous and widely distributed group of ion channels and play important functions in all cells, in both normal and pathological mechanisms, including learning and memory processes. Being fundamental for many diverse physiological processes, K(+)-channels are recognized as potential therapeutic targets in the treatment of several Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, schizophrenia, HIV-1-associated dementia, and epilepsy. Blockers of these channels are therefore potential candidates for the symptomatic treatment of these neuropathies, through their neurological effects. Venomous animals have evolved a wide set of toxins for prey capture and defense. These compounds, mainly peptides, act on various pharmacological targets, making them an innumerable source of ligands for answering experimental paradigms, as well as for therapeutic application. This paper provides an overview of CNS K(+)-channels involved in memory acquisition and storage and aims at evaluating the use of highly selective K(+)-channel blockers derived from arthropod venoms as potential therapeutic agents for CNS diseases involving learning and memory mechanisms.

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