Topical Potassium Channel Blockage Improves Pharyngeal Collapsibility: A Translational, Placebo-Controlled Trial

Amal M. Osman, Sutapa Mukherjee, Thomas J. Altree, Martina Delbeck, Doris Gehring, Michael Hahn, Tina Lang, Charles Xing, Thomas Muller, Gerrit Weimann, Danny J. Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Potassium (K+) channel inhibition has been identified in animal models as a potential target to increase pharyngeal dilator muscle activity and to treat OSA. However, these findings have not yet been translated to humans.

Research Question: Does a novel, potent, tandem of P domains in a weak inward rectifying K+ channel (TWIK)-related acid-sensitive K+ (TASK) 1/3 channel antagonist, BAY2586116, improve pharyngeal collapsibility in pigs and humans, and secondarily, what is the optimal dose and method of topical application?

Study Design and Methods: In the preclinical study, pharyngeal muscle activity and upper-airway collapsibility via transient negative pressure application was quantified in 13 anesthetized pigs during administration of placebo, 0.3 μg, 3 μg, and 30 μg nasal drops of BAY2586116. In the clinical study, 12 people with OSA instrumented with polysomnography equipment, an epiglottic pressure catheter, pneumotachograph, and nasal mask to monitor sleep and breathing performed up to four detailed upper airway sleep physiology studies. Participants received BAY2586116 (160 μg) or placebo nasal spray before sleep via a double-masked, randomized, crossover design. Most participants also returned for three additional overnight visits: (1) nasal drops (160 μg), (2) half-dose nasal spray (80 μg), and (3) direct endoscopic application (160 μg). The upper-airway critical closing pressure (Pcrit) during sleep was quantified at each visit. 

Results: Consistent and sustained improvements in pharyngeal collapsibility to negative pressure were found with 3 and 30 μg of BAY2586116 vs placebo in pigs. Similarly, BAY2586116 improved pharyngeal collapsibility by an average of approximately 2 cm H2O vs placebo, regardless of topical application method and dose (P < .008, mixed model) in participants with OSA. 

Interpretation: Acute topical application of BAY2586116 improves upper-airway collapsibility in anesthetized pigs and sleeping humans with OSA. These novel physiologic findings highlight the therapeutic potential to target potassium channel mechanisms to treat OSA. 

Trial Registry:; No.: NCT04236440; URL:

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-965
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • endotyping
  • pharmacotherapy
  • sleep apnea
  • sleep-disordered breathing
  • upper airway physiology


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