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Science. 1999 Apr 9;284(5412):336-9.

NMDA receptor-mediated K+ efflux and neuronal apoptosis.

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  • 1Center for the Study of Nervous System Injury and Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Neuronal death induced by activating N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors has been linked to Ca2+ and Na+ influx through associated channels. Whole-cell recording from cultured mouse cortical neurons revealed a NMDA-evoked outward current, INMDA-K, carried by K+ efflux at membrane potentials positive to -86 millivolts. Cortical neurons exposed to NMDA in medium containing reduced Na+ and Ca2+ (as found in ischemic brain tissue) lost substantial intracellular K+ and underwent apoptosis. Both K+ loss and apoptosis were attenuated by increasing extracellular K+, even when voltage-gated Ca2+ channels were blocked. Thus NMDA receptor-mediated K+ efflux may contribute to neuronal apoptosis after brain ischemia.

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