Endothelial small-conductance and intermediate-conductance KCa channels: An update on their pharmacology and usefulness as cardiovascular targets

Heike Wulff, Ralf Köhler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT:: Most cardiovascular researchers are familiar with intermediate-conductance KCa3.1 and small-conductance KCa2.3 channels because of their contribution to endothelium-derived hyperpolarization. However, to immunologists and neuroscientists, these channels are primarily known for their role in lymphocyte activation and neuronal excitability. KCa3.1 is involved in the proliferation and migration of T cells, B cells, mast cells, macrophages, fibroblasts, and dedifferentiated vascular smooth muscle cells and is, therefore, being pursued as a potential target for use in asthma, immunosuppression, and fibroproliferative disorders. In contrast, the 3 KCa2 channels (KCa2.1, KCa2.2, and KCa2.3) contribute to the neuronal medium afterhyperpolarization and, depending on the type of neuron, are involved in determining firing rates and frequencies or in regulating bursting. KCa2 activators are accordingly being studied as potential therapeutics for ataxia and epilepsy, whereas KCa2 channel inhibitors like apamin have long been known to improve learning and memory in rodents. Given this background, we review the recent discoveries of novel KCa3.1 and KCa2.3 modulators and critically assess the potential of KCa activators for the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by improving endothelium-derived hyperpolarizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-112
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013



  • action potential
  • afterhyperpolarizatin
  • blood pressure
  • endothelium-derived hyperpolarization
  • gating modulation
  • KCa3.1, KCa2.3
  • lymphocyte activation
  • small/intermediate-conductance calcium-activated K+ channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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