The BK Channel Limits the Pro-Inflammatory Activity of Macrophages.

Chen, Yihe; Markov, Nikita; Gigon, Lea; Hosseini, Aref; Yousefi, Shida; Stojkov, Darko; Simon, Hans-Uwe (2024). The BK Channel Limits the Pro-Inflammatory Activity of Macrophages. Cells, 13(4) MDPI 10.3390/cells13040322

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Macrophages play a crucial role in the innate immune response, serving as key effector cells in the defense against pathogens. Although the role of the large-conductance voltage and calcium-activated potassium channel, also known as the KCa1.1 or BK channel, in regulating neurotransmitter release and smooth muscle contraction is well known, its potential involvement in immune regulation remains unclear. We employed BK-knockout macrophages and noted that the absence of a BK channel promotes the polarization of macrophages towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype known as M1 macrophages. Specifically, the absence of the BK channel resulted in a significant increase in the secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and enhanced the activity of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (Erk1/2 kinases), Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), and the transcription factor ATF-1 within M1 macrophages. Additionally, the lack of the BK channel promoted the activation of the AIM2 inflammasome without affecting the activation of the NLRC4 and NLRP3 inflammasomes. To further investigate the role of the BK channel in regulating AIM2 inflammasome activation, we utilized BK channel inhibitors, such as paxilline and iberiotoxin, along with the BK channel activator NS-11021. Pharmacological inactivation of the BK channel increased, and its stimulation inhibited IL-1β production following AIM2 inflammasome activation in wild-type macrophages. Moreover, wild-type macrophages displayed increased calcium influx when activated with the AIM2 inflammasome, whereas BK-knockout macrophages did not due to the impaired extracellular calcium influx upon activation. Furthermore, under conditions of a calcium-free medium, IL-1β production following AIM2 inflammasome activation was increased in both wild-type and BK-knockout macrophages. This suggests that the BK channel is required for the influx of extracellular calcium in macrophages, thus limiting AIM2 inflammasome activation. In summary, our study reveals a regulatory role of the BK channel in macrophages under inflammatory conditions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology

UniBE Contributor:

Chen, Yihe, Markov, Nikita, Gigon, Lea, Hosseini, Aref, Yousefi, Shida, Stojkov, Darko, Simon, Hans-Uwe


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

27 Feb 2024 13:42

Last Modified:

27 Feb 2024 14:50

Publisher DOI:


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Uncontrolled Keywords:

AIM2 inflammasome BK channel calcium influx kinase macrophage polarization pro-inflammatory cytokine




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