Synthetic resin acid derivatives selectively open the hKV7.2/7.3 channel and prevent epileptic seizures
About one third of all patients with epilepsy have pharmacoresistant seizures. Thus there is a need for better pharmacological treatments. The human voltage-gated potassium (hKV) channel hKV7.2/7.3 is a validated antiseizure target for compounds that activate this channel. In a previous study we have shown that resin acid derivatives can activate the hKV7.2/7.3 channel. In this study we investigated if these channel activators have the potential to be developed into a new type of antiseizure drug. Thus we examined their structure-activity relationships and the site of action on the hKV7.2/7.3 channel, if they have unwanted cardiac and cardiovascular effects, and their potential antiseizure effect. Methods: Ion channels were expressed in Xenopus oocytes or mammalian cell lines and explored with two-electrode voltage-clamp or automated patch-clamp techniques. Unwanted vascular side effects were investigated with isometric tension recordings. Antiseizure activity was studied in an electrophysiological zebrafish-larvae model. Results: Fourteen resin acid derivatives were tested on hKV7.2/7.3. The most efficient channel activators were halogenated and had a permanently negatively charged sulfonyl group. The compounds did not bind to the sites of other hKV7.2/7.3 channel activators, retigabine, or ICA-069673. Instead, they interacted with the most extracellular gating charge of the S4 voltage-sensing helix, and the effects are consistent with an electrostatic mechanism. The compounds altered the voltage dependence of hKV7.4, but in contrast to retigabine, there were no effects on the maximum conductance. Consistent with these data, the compounds had less smooth muscle–relaxing effect than retigabine. The compounds had almost no effect on the voltage dependence of hKV11.1, hNaV1.5, or hCaV1.2, or on the amplitude of hKV11.1. Finally, several resin acid derivatives had clear antiseizure effects in a zebrafish-larvae model. Significance: The described resin acid derivatives hold promise for new antiseizure medications, with reduced risk for adverse effects compared with retigabine.