Na-K-Cl Cotransporter-1 in the mechanism of ammonia-induced astrocyte swelling.

Department of Pathology and Biochemistry, University of Miami School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Miami, Florida 33101, USA.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (Impact Factor: 4.65). 11/2008; 283(49):33874-82. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M804016200
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Brain edema and the consequent increase in intracranial pressure and brain herniation are major complications of acute liver failure (fulminant hepatic failure) and a major cause of death in this condition. Ammonia has been strongly implicated as an important factor, and astrocyte swelling appears to be primarily responsible for the edema. Ammonia is known to cause cell swelling in cultured astrocytes, although the means by which this occurs has not been fully elucidated. A disturbance in one or more of these systems may result in loss of ion homeostasis and cell swelling. In particular, activation of the Na-K-Cl cotransporter (NKCC1) has been shown to be involved in cell swelling in several neurological disorders. We therefore examined the effect of ammonia on NKCC activity and its potential role in the swelling of astrocytes. Cultured astrocytes were exposed to ammonia (NH(4)Cl; 5 mm), and NKCC activity was measured. Ammonia increased NKCC activity at 24 h. Inhibition of this activity by bumetanide diminished ammonia-induced astrocyte swelling. Ammonia also increased total as well as phosphorylated NKCC1. Treatment with cyclohexamide, a potent inhibitor of protein synthesis, diminished NKCC1 protein expression and NKCC activity. Since ammonia is known to induce oxidative/nitrosative stress, and antioxidants and nitric-oxide synthase inhibition diminish astrocyte swelling, we also examined whether ammonia caused oxidation and/or nitration of NKCC1. Cultures exposed to ammonia increased the state of oxidation and nitration of NKCC1, whereas the antioxidants N-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester and uric acid all significantly diminished NKCC activity. These agents also reduced phosphorylated NKCC1 expression. These results suggest that activation of NKCC1 is an important factor in the mediation of astrocyte swelling by ammonia and that such activation appears to be mediated by NKCC1 abundance as well as by its oxidation/nitration and phosphorylation.

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    ABSTRACT: Increased brain ammonium (NH4+/NH3) plays a central role in the manifestation of hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a complex syndrome associated with neurological and psychiatric alterations, which is primarily a disorder of astrocytes. Here, we analysed the influence of NH4+/NH3 on the calcium concentration of astrocytes in situ and studied the underlying mechanisms of NH4+/NH3-evoked calcium changes, employing fluorescence imaging with Fura-2 in acute tissue slices derived from different regions of the mouse brain. In the hippocampal stratum radiatum, perfusion with 5 mM NH4+/NH3 for 30 minutes caused a transient calcium increase in about 40% of astrocytes lasting about 10 minutes. Furthermore, the vast majority of astrocytes (∼90%) experienced a persistent calcium increase by ∼50 nM. This persistent increase was already evoked at concentrations of 1-2 mM NH4+/NH3, developed within 10-20 minutes and was maintained as long as the NH4+/NH3 was present. Qualitatively similar changes were observed in astrocytes of different neocortical regions as well as in cerebellar Bergmann glia. Inhibition of glutamine synthetase resulted in significantly larger calcium increases in response to NH4+/NH3, indicating that glutamine accumulation was not a primary cause. Calcium increases were not mimicked by changes in intracellular pH. Pharmacological inhibition of voltage-gated sodium channels, sodium-potassium-chloride-cotransporters (NKCC), the reverse mode of sodium/calcium exchange (NCX), AMPA- or mGluR5-receptors did not dampen NH4+/NH3-induced calcium increases. They were, however, significantly reduced by inhibition of NMDA receptors and depletion of intracellular calcium stores. Taken together, our measurements show that sustained exposure to NH4+/NH3 causes a sustained increase in intracellular calcium in astrocytes in situ, which is partly dependent on NMDA receptor activation and on release of calcium from intracellular stores. Our study furthermore suggests that dysbalance of astrocyte calcium homeostasis under hyperammonemic conditions is a widespread phenomenon, which might contribute to the disturbance of neurotransmission during HE.
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