Ion channels in the immune system as targets for immunosuppression

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 1997 Dec;8(6):749-56. doi: 10.1016/s0958-1669(97)80130-9.


The discovery of a diverse and unique subset of ion channels in T lymphocytes has led to a rapidly growing body of knowledge about their functional roles in the immune system. Potent and specific blockers have provided molecular tools to probe channel structure-function relations and to elucidate the involvement of K+, Ca2+, and Cl- channels in T-cell activation and cell volume regulation. Recent advances in analyzing Kv1.3 channel structure-function relationships have defined binding sites for channel blockers, which have now been shown to be effective in suppressing T-cell function in vivo. Ion channels may provide excellent pharmaceutical targets for modulating immune system function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy*
  • Ion Channels / chemistry
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Ion Channels