Prevention of brain damage after traumatic brain injury by pharmacological enhancement of KCNQ (Kv7, “M-type”) K+ currents in neurons

Fabio A. Vigil, Eda Bozdemir, Vladislav Bugay, Sang H. Chun, Mary Ann Hobbs, Isamar Sanchez, Shayne D. Hastings, Rafael J. Veraza, Deborah M. Holstein, Shane M. Sprague, Chase M Carver, Jose E. Cavazos, Robert Brenner, James D. Lechleiter, Mark S. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Nearly three million people in the USA suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) yearly; however, there are no pre- or post-TBI treatment options available. KCNQ2-5 voltage-gated K+ channels underlie the neuronal “M current”, which plays a dominant role in the regulation of neuronal excitability. Our strategy towards prevention of TBI-induced brain damage is predicated on the suggested hyper-excitability of neurons induced by TBIs, and the decrease in neuronal excitation upon pharmacological augmentation of M/KCNQ K+ currents. Seizures are very common after a TBI, making further seizures and development of epilepsy disease more likely. Our hypothesis is that TBI-induced hyperexcitability and ischemia/hypoxia lead to metabolic stress, cell death and a maladaptive inflammatory response that causes further downstream morbidity. Using the mouse controlled closed-cortical impact blunt TBI model, we found that systemic administration of the prototype M-channel “opener”, retigabine (RTG), 30 min after TBI, reduces the post-TBI cascade of events, including spontaneous seizures, enhanced susceptibility to chemo-convulsants, metabolic stress, inflammatory responses, blood–brain barrier breakdown, and cell death. This work suggests that acutely reducing neuronal excitability and energy demand via M-current enhancement may be a novel model of therapeutic intervention against post-TBI brain damage and dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1256-1273
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Cell death
  • K channels
  • KCNQ
  • seizures
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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