Disruption of ionic and cell volume homeostasis in cerebral ischemia: The perfect storm.

Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience, Albany Medical College, 47 New Scotland Avenue (MC-136), Albany, NY 12208, USA.
Pathophysiology 01/2008; 14(3-4):183-93. DOI: 10.1016/j.pathophys.2007.09.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The mechanisms of brain tissue damage in stroke are strongly linked to the phenomenon of excitotoxicity, which is defined as damage or death of neural cells due to excessive activation of receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitters glutamate and aspartate. Under physiological conditions, ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate the processes of excitatory neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity. In ischemia, sustained pathological release of glutamate from neurons and glial cells causes prolonged activation of these receptors, resulting in massive depolarization and cytoplasmic Ca(2+) overload. High cytoplasmic levels of Ca(2+) activate many degradative processes that, depending on the metabolic status, cause immediate or delayed death of neural cells. This traditional view has been expanded by a number of observations that implicate Cl(-) channels and several types of non-channel transporter proteins, such as the Na(+),K(+),2Cl(-) cotransporter, Na(+)/H(+) exchanger, and Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger, in the development of glutamate toxicity. Some of these ion transporters increase tissue damage by promoting pathological cell swelling and necrotic cell death, while others contribute to a long-term accumulation of cytoplasmic Ca(2+). This brief review is aimed at illustrating how the dysregulation of various ion transport processes combine in a 'perfect storm' that disrupts neural ionic homeostasis and culminates in the irreversible damage and death of neural cells. The clinical relevance of individual transporters as targets for therapeutic intervention in stroke is also briefly discussed.

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