In primary cultures of mesencephalon small-conductance calcium-activated potassium channels (SK) are expressed in dopaminergic neurons. We characterized SK-mediated currents (I SK) in this system and evaluated their role on homeostasis against excitotoxicity. I SK amplitude was reduced by the glutamatergic agonist AMPA through a reduction in SK channel number in the membrane. Blockade of I SK for 12 h with apamin or NS8593 reduced the number of dopaminergic neurons in a concentration-dependent manner. The effect of apamin was not additive to AMPA toxicity. On the other hand, two I SK agonists, 1-EBIO and CyPPA, caused a significant reduction of spontaneous loss of dopaminergic neurons. 1-EBIO reversed the effects of both AMPA and apamin as well. Thus, I SK influences survival and differentiation of dopaminergic neurons in vitro, and is part of protective homeostatic responses, participating in a rapidly acting negative feedback loop coupling calcium levels, neuron excitability and cellular defenses. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Trends in Neuropharmacology: In Memory of Erminio Costa'.
- NS8593 AMPA
- SK channels