Kv1.1 channels of dorsal root ganglion neurons are inhibited by n-butyl-p-aminobenzoate, a promising anesthetic for the treatment of chronic pain

J. P. Beekwilder, M. E. O'Leary, L. P. Van Den Broek, G. Th H. Van Kempen, D. L. Ypey, R. J. Van Den Berg

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In this study, we investigated the effects of the local anesthetic n-butyl-p-aminobenzoate (BAB) on the delayed rectifier potassium current of cultured dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons using the patch-clamp technique. The majority of the K+ current of small DRG neurons rapidly activates and slowly inactivates at depolarized voltages. BAB inhibited the whole-cell K+ current of these neurons with an IC50 value of 228 μM. Dendrotoxin K (DTXK), a specific inhibitor of Kv1.1, reduced the DRG K+ current at +20 mV by 34%, consistent with an important contribution of channels incorporating the Kv1.1 subunit to the delayed rectifier current. To further investigate the mechanism of BAB inhibition, we examined its effect on Kv1.1 channels heterologously expressed in mammalian tsA201 cells. BAB inhibits the Kv1.1 channels with an IC50 value of 238 μM, similar to what was observed for the native DRG current. BAB accelerates the opening and closing of Kv1.1, but does not alter the midpoint of steady-state activation. BAB seems to inhibit Kv1.1 by stabilizing closed conformations of the channel. Coexpression with the Kvβ1 subunit induces rapid inactivation and reduces the BAB sensitivity of Kv1.1. Comparison of the heterologously expressed Kv1.1 and native DRG currents indicates that the Kvβ1 subunit does not modulate the gating of the DTXK-sensitive Kv1.1 channels of DRG neurons. Inhibition of the delayed rectifier current of these neurons may contribute to the long-duration anesthesia attained during the epidural administration of BAB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-538
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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