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Inhibition of G protein-activated inwardly rectifying K+ channels by ifenprodil.

Toru Kobayashi, Kazuo Washiyama, Kazutaka Ikeda

Neuropsychopharmacology, 2006 Mar , 31, 516-24

G protein-activated inwardly rectifying K+ channels (GIRK, also known as Kir3) are regulated by various G-protein-coupled receptors. Activation of GIRK channels plays an important role in reducing neuronal excitability in most brain regions and the heart rate. Ifenprodil, which is a clinically used cerebral vasodilator, interacts with several receptors, such as alpha1 adrenergic, N-methyl-D-aspartate, serotonin and sigma receptors. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the various clinically related effects of ifenprodil remain to be clarified. Here, we examined the effects of ifenprodil on GIRK channels by using Xenopus oocyte expression assays. In oocytes injected with mRNAs for GIRK1/GIRK2, GIRK2 or GIRK1/GIRK4 subunits, ifenprodil reversibly reduced inward currents through the basal GIRK activity. The inhibition was concentration-dependent, but voltage- and time-independent, suggesting that ifenprodil may not act as an open channel blocker of the channels. In contrast, Kir1.1 and Kir2.1 channels in other Kir channel subfamilies were insensitive to ifenprodil. Furthermore, GIRK current responses activated by the cloned kappa-opioid receptor were similarly inhibited by ifenprodil. The inhibitory effects of ifenprodil were not observed when ifenprodil was applied intracellularly, and were not affected by extracellular pH, which changed the proportion of the uncharged to protonated ifenprodil, suggesting its action from the extracellular side. The GIRK currents induced by ethanol were also attenuated in the presence of ifenprodil. Our results suggest that direct inhibition of GIRK channels by ifenprodil, at submicromolar concentrations or more, may contribute to some of its therapeutic effects and adverse side effects.