Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) play important roles in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Potassium channels have regulatory roles in many cell functions. We have identified the calcium- and voltage-gated KCa1.1 channel (BK, Maxi-K, Slo1, KCNMA1) as the major potassium channel expressed at the plasma membrane of FLS isolated from patients with RA (RA-FLS). We further show that blocking this channel perturbs the calcium homeostasis of the cells and inhibits the proliferation, production of VEGF, IL-8, and pro-MMP-2, and migration and invasion of RA-FLS. Our findings indicate a regulatory role of KCa1.1 channels in RA-FLS function and suggest this channel as a potential target for the treatment of RA.
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