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Highly Selective Transmembrane Transport of Exogenous Lithium Ions through Rationally Designed Supramolecular Channels

Artificial Li+ channels composed of pore-forming small aromatic molecules show almost exclusive transport of exogenous lithium ions over major physiological cations, with a Li+/Na+ selectivity ratio of 23.0. This highly selective Li+ channel may become an important tool for studying the physiological role of intracellular lithium ions.


Abstract

Lithium ions have been applied in the clinic in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. In this work, we report artificial supramolecular lithium channels composed of pore-containing small aromatic molecules. By adjusting the lumen size and coordination numbers, we found that one of the supramolecular channels developed shows unprecedented transmembrane transport of exogenous lithium ions with a Li+/Na+ selectivity ratio of 23.0, which is in the same level of that of natural Na+ channels. Furthermore, four coordination sites inside channels are found to be the basic requirement for ion transport function. Importantly, this artificial lithium channel displays very low transport of physiological Na+, K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+ ions. This highly selective Li+ channel may become an important tool for studying the physiological role of intracellular lithium ions, especially in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

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