Role of Potassium Channels in Isoflurane- and Sevoflurane-induced Attenuation of Hypoxic Pulmonary Vasoconstriction in Isolated Perfused Rabbit Lungs

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Although potassium channels are thought to be responsible for the initiation of hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV), their role in the HPV-inhibitory effect of volatile anesthetics is unclear. The current study tested if the HPV-inhibitory effect of isoflurane and sevoflurane can be affected by changing the potassium-channel opening status with specific potassium-channel inhibitors in isolated rabbit lungs.


Isolated rabbit lungs were divided into eight groups (n = 6 each in isoflurane groups and n = 8 in sevoflurane groups): those receiving no inhibitor treatment = control-isoflurane and control-sevoflurane groups; those treated with an adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium (KATP)-channel inhibitor, glibenclamide = glibenclamide–isoflurane and glibenclamide-sevoflurane groups; those treated with a high-conductance calcium-activated potassium (KCa)-channel inhibitor, iberiotoxin = iberiotoxin–isoflurane and iberiotoxin–sevoflurane groups; and those treated with a voltage-sensitive potassium (KV)-channel inhibitor, 4-aminopyridine = 4-aminopyridine–isoflurane and 4-aminopyridine–sevoflurane groups. The effect of anesthetic on HPV was tested by exposure of the lungs to isoflurane at a concentration of 0, 0.5, 1, or 2 minimum alveolar concentration, or to sevoflurane at a concentration of 0, 0.5, 1, or 1.62 minimum alveolar concentration. The relation between anesthetic concentrations and the HPV response was analyzed by the Wagner equation.


The inhibition of KV channels by 4-aminopyridine and KCa channels by iberiotoxin augmented the HPV response. The isoflurane-induced attenuation of HPV was attenuated by voltage-sensitive potassium-channel inhibition with 4-aminopyridine, potentiated by KCa-channel inhibition with iberiotoxin, but not affected by KATP-channel inhibition with glibenclamide. The sevoflurane-induced attenuation of HPV was not affected by any of the potassium-channel inhibitors.


Isoflurane may modulate the HPV response partially through KCa and KV channels, but sevoflurane may attenuate the HPV response through other pathways rather than through the currently investigated potassium channels in isolated rabbit lungs.

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