The Two-Pore Domain Potassium Channel TREK-1 Promotes Blood-Brain Barrier Breakdown and Exacerbates Neuronal Death After Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Mice

Mol Neurobiol. 2022 Apr;59(4):2305-2327. doi: 10.1007/s12035-021-02702-5. Epub 2022 Jan 24.


Earlier studies have shown the neuroprotective role of TWIK-related K+ channel 1 (TREK-1) in global cerebral and spinal cord ischemia, while its function in focal cerebral ischemia has long been debated. This study used TREK-1-deficient mice to directly investigate the role of TREK-1 after focal cerebral ischemia. First, immunofluorescence assays in the mouse cerebral cortex indicated that TREK-1 expression was mostly abundant in astrocytes, neurons, and oligodendrocyte precursor cells but was low in myelinating oligodendrocytes, microglia, or endothelial cells. TREK-1 deficiency did not affect brain weight and morphology or the number of neurons, astrocytes, or microglia but did increase glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression in astrocytes of the cerebral cortex. The anatomy of the major cerebral vasculature, number and structure of brain micro blood vessels, and blood-brain barrier integrity were unaltered. Next, mice underwent 60 min of focal cerebral ischemia and 72 h of reperfusion induced by the intraluminal suture method. TREK-1-deficient mice showed less neuronal death, smaller infarction size, milder blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown, reduced immune cell invasion, and better neurological function. Finally, the specific pharmacological inhibition of TREK-1 also decreased infarction size and improved neurological function. These results demonstrated that TREK-1 might play a detrimental rather than beneficial role in focal cerebral ischemia, and inhibition of TREK-1 would be a strategy to treat ischemic stroke in the clinic.

Keywords: Blood–brain barrier; Focal cerebral ischemia; Stroke; TREK-1.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Brain Ischemia* / metabolism
  • Cerebral Infarction
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels, Tandem Pore Domain* / metabolism


  • Potassium Channels, Tandem Pore Domain
  • potassium channel protein TREK-1
  • Potassium