Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been reported to reduce neuronal excitability, in part by promoting inactivation of voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels. Effects on neuronal potassium channels are less explored and experimental data ambiguous. The aim of this study was to investigate anti-excitable effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids on the neuronal M-channel, important for setting the resting membrane potential in hippocampal and dorsal root ganglion neurones.Methods:
Effects of fatty acids and fatty acid analogues on mouse dorsal root ganglion neurones and on the human KV7.2/3 channel expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes were studied using electrophysiology.Results:
Extracellular application of physiologically relevant concentrations of the polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid hyperpolarized the resting membrane potential (−2.4 mV by 30 μm) and increased the threshold current to evoke action potentials in dorsal root ganglion neurones. The polyunsaturated fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid, α-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid facilitated opening of the human M-channel, comprised of the heteromeric human KV7.2/3 channel expressed in Xenopus oocytes, by shifting the conductance-vs.-voltage curve towards more negative voltages (by −7.4 to −11.3 mV by 70 μm). Uncharged docosahexaenoic acid methyl ester and monounsaturated oleic acid did not facilitate opening of the human KV7.2/3 channel.Conclusions:
These findings suggest that circulating polyunsaturated fatty acids, with a minimum requirement of multiple double bonds and a charged carboxyl group, dampen excitability by opening neuronal M-channels. Collectively, our data bring light to the molecular targets of polyunsaturated fatty acids and thus a possible mechanism by which polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce neuronal excitability.