Mitochondrial responses to ischemic stress play an important role in necrosis and apoptosis of brain cells. Recent studies using several different experimental preparations have shown that activation of ATP-sensitive potassium channels in mitochondria (mitoK ATP channels) is able to protect neurons and astroglia against injury and death. Thus, targeting of mitoK ATP channels appears to be a novel approach to neuroprotection. However, little is known about the mechanisms involved. The purpose of this review is to detail the current state of knowledge about this important, emerging area of investigation, and to provide suggestions for future studies.
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