Aims Mutations in the KCNK3 gene, which encodes for an outward-rectifier K+ channel, have been identified in patients suffering from pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and constitute the first described channelopathy in PAH. In human PAH and experimental pulmonary hypertension (PH), we demonstrated that KCNK3 expression and function are severely reduced in pulmonary vascular cells, promoting PH-like phenotype at the morphologic and haemodynamic levels. Since KCNK3 channel is also expressed in both the human and rodent heart, we aimed to elucidate the pathophysiological role of KCNK3 channel in right ventricular (RV) hypertrophy (RVH) related to PH. Methods and results Using whole-cell Patch-clamp technique, we demonstrated that KCNK3 is predominantly expressed in adult rat RV cardiomyocytes compared to the left ventricle cardiomyocytes and participates in the repolarizing phase of the RV action potential. We revealed a reduction in KCNK3 function prior to development of RVH and the rise of pulmonary vascular resistance. KCNK3 function is severely reduced in RV cardiomyocytes during the development of RVH in several rat models of PH (exposure to monocrotaline, chronic hypoxia, and Sugen/hypoxia) and chronic RV pressure overload (pulmonary artery banding). In experimental PH, we revealed a reduction in KCNK3 function before any rise in pulmonary vascular resistance and the development of RVH. KCNK3 mRNA level is also reduced in human RV tissues from PAH patients compared to non-PAH patients. In line with these findings, chronic inhibition of KCNK3 in rats with the specific inhibitor (A293) induces RV hypertrophy which is associated with the reexpression of foetal genes, RV fibrosis, RV inflammation, and subsequent loss of RV performance as assessed by echocardiography. Conclusion Our data indicate that loss of KCNK3 function and expression is a hallmark of the RV hypertrophy/dysfunction associated with PH.
- KCNK3 inhibitor
- RV dysfunction