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The plasticity of ion channels: parallels between the nervous and immune systems

, : The plasticity of ion channels: parallels between the nervous and immune systems. Trends in Neurosciences 11(5): 214-218

Patch-clamp recording techniques have made possible the detailed study of ion channels in cells of the immune system. These studies have revealed a number of interesting parallels between channels in the immune and nervous systems, perhaps the most intriguing of which is that channel expression and function is modifiable. Channel plasticity in immune cells takes several forms. The ensemble of K+ channels expressed by T lymphocytes changes in a stereotyped way during development and after, as mature cells interact with mitogens. Adhesion to a solid substrate alters the electrical properties of macrophages. During cell activation, Ca2+- permeable channels are opened by inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) in T cells and by intracellular Ca2+ in neutrophils. These studies indicate that, both during the primary phase of differentiation and during subsequent responses to environmental stimuli, the ‘electrical phenotype’ of cells in the immune system undergoes changes that may be related to cellular behavior.


PMID: 2471326

DOI: 10.1016/0166-2236(88)90129-4

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