Voltage-gated Kv1.3 potassium channels and calcium-dependent IKCa1 potassium channels play an important role in the regulation of lymphocyte activation. Upon antigen presentation, they maintain the electrochemical driving force for sustained calcium influx that regulates cytokine production and further components of an adequate immune response. Maternal and neonatal immune functions are characterized by distinct alterations in the perinatal period compared with the adult, non-pregnant immune status. These physiological characteristics play an important role in human reproduction and early postnatal development. At the same time, pathologic alterations of the immune response may occur both in the maternal and neonatal immune system, resulting in specific diseases. Recent studies demonstrated that lymphocyte potassium channels may be important elements in the development of the physiological and pathologic alterations of the immune system in human pregnancy and the neonatal period. In healthy pregnancy, the maternal immune system acquires tolerance in order to protect the developing fetus from harmful immunological reactions. If this tolerance is impaired, an uncontrolled maternal immune response may arise, contributing to the development of a pregnancy specific syndrome, preeclampsia. There is a characteristic pattern of lymphocyte calcium influx and activation in healthy pregnancy influenced by potassium channels. This pattern is missing in preeclampsia, where the above properties are rather comparable to the non-pregnant state. Decreased functionality of neonatal lymphocytes is a widely recognized experimental and clinical phenomenon. Cytokine production in activated T lymphocytes of the term neonate is reduced compared to adults. A possible contributing factor to this reduction might be the impairment of mechanisms regulating short-term activation of lymphocytes compared to adults. Kv1.3 and IKCa1 lymphocyte potassium channels are essential components of these mechanisms. Recent results indicate that characteristics of short-term activation of major neonatal lymphocyte subsets are indeed altered compared to adults. These findings improve the understanding of the mechanisms that prevent neonatal lymphocytes from adequate activation upon activating stimuli and, hence, exert a lower intensity of immune response. They show that the functional impairment of lymphocyte potassium channels may be of importance in those mechanisms. In this chapter, we review recent knowledge on the contribution of lymphocyte potassium channels to perinatal immunity both from a maternal and a neonatal perspective. Furthermore, we provide data on the role of these channels in shaping the kinetics of calcium influx during lymphocyte activation in pregnancy and in neonates.
|Title of host publication||Potassium Channels|
|Subtitle of host publication||Types, Structure and Blockers|
|Publisher||Nova Science Publishers, Inc.|
|Number of pages||20|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 1 2012|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)