TASK-1 channels in oligodendrocytes: a role in ischemia mediated disruption

V. Hawkins, Arthur Butt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oligodendrocytes are the myelinating cells of the CNS and, like neurons, are highly sensitive to ischemic damage. However, the mechanisms underlying cytotoxicity in oligodendrocytes during hypoxic/ischemic episodes are not fully understood. TASK-1 is a K+ leak channel that mediates hypoxic depolarisation in neurons. The expression and function of TASK-1 in oligodendrocytes had not previously been addressed. In this study, we investigate the expression of TASK-1 in oligodendrocytes and its role in white matter ischemic damage. Expression of TASK-1 in oligodendrocytes was investigated in the mouse brain using immunostaining. TASK-1 channel function was identified by established pharmacological and electrophysiological strategies, using the whole-cell patch clamp technique in cell cultures of oligodendrocytes from the optic nerve, a typical white matter tract. The role of TASK-1 in hypoxia was examined in isolated intact optic nerves subjected to oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD). Oligodendrocytes are strongly immunopositive for TASK-1 throughout the brain. Patch-clamp identified functional TASK-1-like leak currents in oligodendrocytes using two recognised means of inhibiting TASK-1, decreasing extracellular pH to 6.4 and exposure to the TASK-1 selective inhibitor anandamide. Incubation of optic nerves with methanandamide, a non-hydrolysable form of anandamide, significantly protected oligodendrocytes against hypoxic disruption and death in OGD. Our data demonstrate for the first time that oligodendrocytes express functional TASK-1 channels and provide compelling evidence they contribute to oligodendrocyte damage in hypoxia. Since oligodendrocyte damage is a key factor in ischemic episodes, TASK-1 may provide a potential therapeutic target in stroke and white matter disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-94
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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