Examining potassium channel function in astrocytes

Methods Mol Biol. 2012;814:265-81. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-452-0_18.


Electrophysiologically, astrocytes are characterized by a high K(+) resting conductance and a hyperpolarized resting membrane potential. Both features are due to the activity of astrocytic potassium channels. Astrocytes express a variety of voltage-dependent and leak potassium channels on the plasma membrane that contribute to the hyperpolarized resting membrane potential and other cellular processes. This chapter focuses on measuring K(+) channel function in astrocytes, focusing on Kir4.1, an inwardly rectifying potassium channel. We and others have demonstrated that Kir4.1 contributes significantly to the high-resting K(+) conductance and the hyperpolarized resting membrane potential. This channel is also implicated in channel-mediated regulation of extracellular potassium.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Electric Capacitance
  • Electrophysiology
  • Histological Techniques / methods*
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / physiology*
  • Rats


  • Kcnj10 (channel)
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying