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J Neurosci. 2011 May 11;31(19):6997-7004. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6088-10.2011.

Preemptive regulation of intracellular pH in hippocampal neurons by a dual mechanism of depolarization-induced alkalinization.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery and Physiology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, New York 10016, USA.


Numerous studies have documented the mechanisms that regulate intracellular pH (pH(i)) in hippocampal neurons in response to an acid load. Here, we studied the response of pH(i) to depolarization in cultured hippocampal neurons. Elevation of external K+ (6-30 mm) elicited an acid transient followed by a large net alkaline shift. Similar responses were observed in acutely dissociated hippocampal neurons. In Ca2+ -free media, the acid response was curtailed and the alkaline shift enhanced. DIDS blocked the alkaline response and revealed a prolonged underlying acidification that was highly dependent on Ca2+ entry. Similar alkaline responses could be elicited by AMPA, indicating that this rise in pH(i) was a depolarization-induced alkalinization (DIA). The DIA was found to consist of Cl- -dependent and Cl- -independent components, each accounting for approximately one-half of the peak amplitude. The Cl- -independent component was postulated to arise from operation of the electrogenic Na+ -HCO3- cotransporter NBCe1. Quantitative PCR and single-cell multiplex reverse transcription-PCR demonstrated message for NBCe1 in our hippocampal neurons. In neurons cultured from Slc4a4 knock-out (KO) mice, the DIA was reduced by approximately one-half compared with wild type, suggesting that NBCe1 was responsible for the Cl- -independent DIA. In Slc4a4 KO neurons, the remaining DIA was virtually abolished in Cl- -free media. These data demonstrate that DIA of hippocampal neurons occurs via NBCe1, and a parallel DIDS-sensitive, Cl- -dependent mechanism. Our results indicate that, by activating net acid extrusion in response to depolarization, hippocampal neurons can preempt a large, prolonged, Ca2+ -dependent acidosis.

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