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Neurochem Res. 2000 Oct;25(9-10):1301-14.

Signaling events during swelling and regulatory volume decrease.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Institute of Cell Physiology, National University of Mexico, Mexico City.


Brain cell swelling compromises neuronal function and survival by the risk of generation of ischemia episodes as compression of small vessels occurs due to the limits to expansion imposed by the rigid skull. External osmolarity reductions or intracellular accumulation of osmotically active solutes result in cell swelling which can be counteracted by extrusion of osmolytes through specific efflux pathways. Characterization of these pathways has received considerable attention, and there is now interest in the understanding of the intracellular signaling events involved in their activation and regulation. Calcium and calmodulin, phosphoinositides and cAMP may act as second messengers, carrying the information about a cell volume change into signaling enzymes. Small GTPases, protein tyrosine kinases and phospholipases, also appear to be part of the signaling cascades ultimately modulating the osmolyte efflux pathways. This review focus on i) the influence of hyposmotic and isosmotic swelling on these signaling events and molecules and ii) the effects of manipulating their function on the osmolyte fluxes, particularly K+, CI- and amino acids, and on the consequent efficiency of cell volume adjustment.

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