Lysosomal BK channels facilitate silica-induced inflammation in macrophages

Rebekah L. Kendall, Andrij Holian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Lysosomal ion channels are proposed therapeutic targets for a number of diseases, including those driven by NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammation. Here, the specific role of the lysosomal big conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channel was evaluated in a silica model of inflammation in murine macrophages. A specific-inhibitor of BK channel function, paxilline (PAX), and activators NS11021 and NS1619 were utilized to evaluate the role of lysosomal BK channel activity in silica-induced lysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP) and NLRP3 inflammasome activation resulting in IL-1β release. Methods: Murine macrophages were exposed in vitro to crystalline silica following pretreatment with BK channel inhibitors or activators and LMP, cell death, and IL-1β release were assessed. In addition, the effect of PAX treatment on silica-induced cytosolic K+ decrease was measured. Finally, the effects of BK channel modifiers on lysosomal pH, proteolytic activity, and cholesterol transport were also evaluated. Results: PAX pretreatment significantly attenuated silica-induced cell death and IL-1β release. PAX caused an increase in lysosomal pH and decrease in lysosomal proteolytic activity. PAX also caused a significant accumulation of lysosomal cholesterol. BK channel activators NS11021 and NS1619 increased silica-induced cell death and IL-1β release. BK channel activation also caused a decrease in lysosomal pH and increase in lysosomal proteolytic function as well as a decrease in cholesterol accumulation. Conclusion: Taken together, these results demonstrate that inhibiting lysosomal BK channel activity with PAX effectively reduced silica-induced cell death and IL-1β release. Blocking cytosolic K+ entry into the lysosome prevented LMP through the decrease of lysosomal acidification and proteolytic function and increase in lysosomal cholesterol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalInhalation Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2024


  • LMP
  • Macrophage
  • cholesterol
  • inflammation
  • ion channels
  • lysosome
  • silica


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