Acetaldehyde and acetic acid/acetate, the active metabolites of alcohol (ethanol, EtOH), generate actions of their own ranging from behavioral, physiological, to pathological/cancerogenic effects. EtOH and acetaldehyde have been studied to some depth, whereas the effects of acetic acid have been less well explored. In this study, we investigated the effect of acetic acid on big conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels present in GH3 rat pituitary tumor cells in more detail. In whole cell voltage clamp recordings, extracellular application of acetic acid increased total outward currents in a dose-dependent manner. This effect was prevented after the application of the specific BK channel blocker paxilline. Acetic acid action was pH-dependent—in whole cell current and single BK channel recordings, open probability (Po) was significantly increased by extracellular pH reduction and decreased by neutral or base pH. Acetic acid hyperpolarized the membrane potential, whereas acidic physiological solution had a depolarizing effect. Moreover, acetic acid reduced calcium (Ca2+) oscillations and exocytosis of growth hormone contained secretory granules from GH3 cells. These effects were partially prevented by BK inhibitors—tetraethylammonium or paxillin. In conclusion, our experiments indicate that acetic acid activates BK channels in GH3 cells which eventually contribute to acetic acid-induced membrane hyperpolarization, cessation of Ca2+ oscillations, and decrease of growth hormone release.
Shaidullov, I., Ermakova, E., Gaifullina, A., Mosshammer, A., Yakovlev, A., Weiger, T. M., … Sitdikova, G. (2021). Alcohol metabolite acetic acid activates BK channels in a pH-dependent manner and decreases calcium oscillations and exocytosis of secretory granules in rat pituitary GH3 cells. Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology, 473(1), 67–77. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00424-020-02484-0