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Voltage-gated proton channels in microglia

Progress in Neurobiology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0301-0082(00)00062-9


Abstract Microglia, macrophages that reside in the brain, can express at least 12 different ion channels, including voltage-gated proton channels. The properties of H + currents in microglia are similar to those in other phagocytes. Proton currents are elicited by depolarizing the membrane potential, but activation also depends strongly on both intracellular pH (pH i) and extracellular pH (pH o). Increasing pH o or lowering pH i promotes H + channel opening by shifting the activation threshold to more negative potentials. H + channels in microglia open only when the pH gradient is outward, so they carry only outward current in the steady state. Time-dependent activation of H + currents is slow, with a time constant roughly 1 s at room temperature. Microglial H + currents are inhibited by inorganic polyvalent cations, which reduce H + current amplitude and shift the voltage dependence of activation to more positive potentials. Cytoskeletal disruptive agents modulate H + currents in microglia. Cytochalasin D and colchicine decrease the current density and slow the activation of H + currents. Similar changes of H + currents, possibly due to cytoskeletal reorganization, occur in microglia during the transformation from ameboid to ramified morphology. Phagocytes, including microglia, undergo a respiratory burst, in which NADPH oxidase releases bactericidal superoxide anions into the phagosome and stoichiometrically releases protons into the cell, tending to depolarize and acidify the cell. H + currents may help regulate both the membrane potential and pH i during the respiratory burst. By compensating for the efflux of electrons and counteracting intracellular acidification, H + channels help maintain superoxide anion production.

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