TREK-1 is a mechanosensitive member of the two-pore domain potassium channel family (2PK+) that is also sensitive to lipids, free fatty acids (including arachidonic acid), temperature, intracellular pH, and a range of clinically relevant compounds including volatile anaesthetics. TREK-1 is known to be expressed at high levels in excitable tissues, such as the nervous system, the heart and smooth muscle, where it is believed to play a prominent role in controlling resting cell membrane potential and electrical excitability. In this report, we use RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry to confirm that human derived osteoblasts and MG63 cells express TREK-1 mRNA and protein. In addition, we show gene expression of TREK2c and TRAAK channels. Furthermore, whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology demonstrates that these cells express a spontaneously active, outwardly rectifying potassium "background leak" current that shares many similarities to TREK-1. The outward current is largely insensitive to TEA and Ba2+, and is sensitive to application of lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC). In addition, blocking TREK-1 channel activity is shown to upregulate bone cell proliferation. It is concluded that human osteoblasts functionally express TREK-1 and that these channels contribute, at least in part, to the resting membrane potential of human osteoblast cells. We hypothesise a possible role for TREK-1 in mechanotransduction, leading to bone remodelling. (C) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.