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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 362768, 8 pages
Review Article

Proinflammatory Cytokines and Potassium Channels in the Kidney

Department of Physiology, Iwate Medical University School of Medicine, 2-1-1 Nishitokuta, Yahaba, Iwate 028-3694, Japan

Received 24 July 2015; Accepted 9 September 2015

Academic Editor: Mauricio Retamal

Copyright © 2015 Kazuyoshi Nakamura et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Proinflammatory cytokines affect several cell functions via receptor-mediated processes. In the kidney, functions of transporters and ion channels along the nephron are also affected by some cytokines. Among these, alteration of activity of potassium ion (K+) channels induces changes in transepithelial transport of solutes and water in the kidney, since K+ channels in tubule cells are indispensable for formation of membrane potential which serves as a driving force for the transepithelial transport. Altered K+ channel activity may be involved in renal cell dysfunction during inflammation. Although little information was available regarding the effects of proinflammatory cytokines on renal K+ channels, reports have emerged during the last decade. In human proximal tubule cells, interferon-γ showed a time-dependent biphasic effect on a 40 pS K+ channel, that is, delayed suppression and acute stimulation, and interleukin-1β acutely suppressed the channel activity. Transforming growth factor-β1 activated KCa3.1 K+ channel in immortalized human proximal tubule cells, which would be involved in the pathogenesis of renal fibrosis. This review discusses the effects of proinflammatory cytokines on renal K+ channels and the causal relationship between the cytokine-induced changes in K+ channel activity and renal dysfunction.