Targeting Microglial KATP Channels to Treat Neurodegenerative Diseases: A Mitochondrial Issue
Microglial cells involved in the pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative diseases acquire the features of cytotoxic and phagocytic cells in response to certain pathogens and inflammatory signals. K(ATP) channels are energy sensors of ATP availability that link the cell's metabolic state to its membrane excitability. In pancreatic beta cells, they promote glucose-dependent insulin secretion, and in neurones, hyperpolarization that protects against hypoxic damage. This study analyses activated microglia in an in vivo rat neurodegenerative model based on acute hippocampal glutamate receptor overactivation and in postmortem samples from patients with Alzheimer's disease. We demonstrate that in activated microglia the K(ATP) channel components SUR-1 or SUR-2 are present together with glucokinase. Our results indicate that, according to glucose availability, these channels may modify microglia membrane potential. The functional relevance of these channels is seen as a new mechanism modulating the effects of external signals on microglia.