Down-regulation of Kir4.1 in the cerebral cortex of rats with liver failure and in cultured astrocytes treated with glutamine: Implications for astrocytic dysfunction in hepatic encephalopathy
Department of Neurotoxicology, Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland. Journal of Neuroscience Research
(Impact Factor: 2.59).
12/2011; 89(12):2018-27. DOI: 10.1002/jnr.22656
Brain edema in acute hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is due mainly to swelling of astrocytes. Efflux of potassium is implicated in the prevention of glial swelling under hypoosmotic conditions. We investigated whether pathogenic factors of HE, glutamine (Gln) and/or ammonia, induce alterations in the expression of glial potassium channels (Kir4.1, Kir2.1) and Na(+) -K(+) -2Cl(-) cotransporter-1 (NKCC1) in rat cerebral cortex and cultured rat cortical astrocytes and whether these alterations have consequences for potassium efflux and astrocytic swelling. Thioacetamide-induced acute liver failure in rats resulted in significant decreases in the Kir4.1 mRNA and protein contents of cerebral cortex, whereas expression of Kir2.1 and NKCC1 remained unaltered. Incubation of primary cortical astrocytes for 72 hr in the presence of Gln (5 mM), but not of ammonia (5 mM or 10 mM), induced a decrease in the levels of Kir4.1 mRNA and protein. Similarly to incubation with Gln, reduction of Kir4.1 mRNA expression by RNA interference caused swelling of astrocytes as shown by confocal imaging followed by 3D computational analysis. Gln reduced the astrocytic uptake of D-[(3) H]aspartate, but, in contrast to the earlier reported effect of ammonia, this reduction was not accompanied by decreased expression of the astrocytic glutamate transporter GLT-1 mRNA. Both Gln and ammonia decreased hypoosmolarity-induced (86) Rb efflux from the cells, but the effect was more pronounced with Gln. The results indicate that down-regulation of Kir4.1 may mediate distinct aspects of Gln-induced astrocytic dysfunction in HE.
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Available from: Alexei Verkhratsky
- "The inwardly rectifying potassium channels Kir4.1 abundantly expressed in astrocytes contribute to K + spatial buffering, a fundamental mechanism in maintaining neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission (Olsen and Sontheimer, 2008), and are implicated in the regulation of cell volume (Benesova et al., 2012; Haj-Yasein et al., 2011; Obara-Michlewska et al., 2011; Pannicke et al., 2006). Downregulation of Kir4.1 channels expression has been reported to decrease glutamate (Glu) uptake in cultured astrocytes (Kucheryavykh et al., 2007) and in astrocytes in hippocampal slices (Djukic et al., 2007). "
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ABSTRACT: Astroglial inward rectifying Kir4.1 potassium channels are fundamental for the maintenance of ion and water homeostasis in the central nervous system (CNS). Down-regulation of Kir4.1 expression is observed in CNS disorders associated with excessive extracellular glutamate (Glu) accumulation, including hepatic encephalopathy related to acute liver failure (ALF). Here we demonstrate that prolonged (3 days) treatment of cultured rat cortical astrocytes with 2 mM Glu or 100 µM NMDA decreases the expression of Kir4.1 mRNA and protein. Inhibition by Glu of Kir4.1 mRNA expression was reversed by NMDA receptor antagonists MK-801 and AP-5 (each at 50 µM), and by a non-transportable inhibitor of Glu uptake TBOA (100 µM). MK-801 reversed the inhibitory effect of Glu on Kir4.1 protein expression. In contrast, transcription of Kir4.1 channels was not affected by: (i) a transportable Glu uptake inhibitor PDC (100 µM); (ii) by group I mGluR antagonist MTEP (100 µM); (iii) by antagonists of oxidative-nitrosative stress (ONS) in astrocytes, including the neuroprotective amino acid taurine (Tau; 10 mM), the NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocyanine (APO; 300 µM), the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, L-NNA (100 µM), and a membrane permeable glutathione precursor, glutathione-diethyl ester (GEE; 3 mM). Down-regulation of Kir4.1 transcription in rats with ALF was attenuated by intraperitoneal administration of a competitive NMDA receptor antagonist memantine, but not by histidine, which reverses ONS associated with ALF. Collectively, the results indicate that over-activation of astroglial NMDA receptors, aided by as yet undefined effects of Glu entry to astrocytes, is a primary cause of the reduction of Kir4.1 expression in CNS disorders associated with increased exposure to Glu.
Available from: Wojciech Hilgier
- "The above sequence of events is causally related, among other factors, to excessive accumulation of GLU in the extracellular (perisynaptic) space of the brain, seen both in experimental HE animals    and human HE patients . Two mutually not exclusive mechanisms have been implicated in the increase of extracellular GLU in HE: (i) impaired reuptake of released GLU to astrocytes associated with downregulation of astrocytic GLU transporters   and/or of the inward rectifying astrocytic potassium channel Kir4.1 ; (ii) increased synaptic  or astrocytic GLU release  , partly related to excessive activation of NMDA receptors  . While the relative contribution of mechanisms (i) and (ii) at different stages of HE has not been accurately assessed, investigations reported up-to-date unambiguously underscore the role of increased NMDA receptor-mediated neuronal GLU release in its acute phase  . "
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Kynurenic acid (KYNA) modulates the glutamatergic tone by controlling neuronal glutamate (GLU) release. The present study tested the potential of the KYNA precursor, kynurenine (KYN) to counter increased extracellular GLU associated with the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy accompanying acute liver failure (ALF).
ALF was induced in adult rats by administration of a hepatotoxin, thioacetamide. KYNA and GLU were measured in the cerebral cortical microdialysates of control (saline-treated) and ALF rats using HPLC. The expression of mRNA coding for kynurenine aminotransferase II (KAT-II), the astrocytic enzyme converting KYN to KYNA, was assayed by real-time PCR.
Cerebral cortical extracellular KYNA was increased in ALF rats not treated with KYN, consistent with a previously observed increase of cerebral cortical KATII activity in this ALF model. Single intraperitoneal administration of KYN (50 mg/kg, 120 min before microdialysate collection), produced a further substantial increase of extracellular KYNA, paralleled by a decrease of extracellular GLU. In cultured cerebral cortical astrocytes, the cells which in situ are the primary target of blood-derived ammonia and other toxins liberated due to ALF, elevation of KAT-II mRNA expression was noted upon their incubation with KYN and the KYN precursor, tryptophan (Trp), which is normally elevated by ALF.
Administration of exogenous KYN to stimulate KYNA synthesis may help correcting excessive extracellular accumulation of GLU in cerebral cortex caused by ALF. The therapeutic potential of KYN in ALF appears to be fostered by increased expression of KAT-II in astrocytes upon exposure to KYN or Trp.
Available from: Ya-Yun Wang
- "The present results primarily indicate a possible association between decreased plasma mRNA levels of KCC2 and increased levels of blood ammonia, the degree of liver insufficiency, and the deteriorated neurological status of the patients. The expression of NKCC1 did not change, as is consistent with results obtained from thioacetamide-induced HE rats (22). The present results indicate that altered chloride homeostasis was closely related to the severity of the HE and may be a feature of neurological alterations present in HE. "
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ABSTRACT: Hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a neuropsychiatric abnormality that commonly accompanies cirrhosis of the liver, is often difficult to treat and manage. Changes in chloride homeostasis are involved in the generation of a number of brain disorders. In this study, we considered whether chloride homeostasis is associated with HE. The mRNA levels of the Cl(-) extrusion system (KCC2) and the Cl(-) intrusion system (NKCC1) were detected by real-time RT-PCR in the plasma of 29 cirrhotic patients with HE of grade I-II, 36 cirrhotic patients with HE of grade III-IV, 20 cirrhotic patients without HE and 15 healthy controls. The mRNA levels of KCC2 in cirrhotic patients with mild and severe HE were significantly lower compared to those in cirrhotic patients without HE or in the healthy controls. However, NKCC1 mRNA levels did not differ between the different groups. In addition, for cirrhotic patients with HE, there were significant negative correlations between KCC2 levels and the levels of blood ammonia and hepatic function scores (Child-Pugh and model for end-stage liver disease scores); there was also a significant positive correlation between KCC2 levels and neurological status (Glasgow scores). In conclusion, our study indicates that an imbalance of KCC2 and NKCC1 may be a novel biomarker for detecting HE and for monitoring disease development.
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