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J Physiol. 1999 Sep 1;519 Pt 2:451-66.

Glutamate-induced mitochondrial depolarisation and perturbation of calcium homeostasis in cultured rat hippocampal neurones.

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Department of Physiology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


1. The objective of this study was to clarify the relationships between loss of mitochondrial potential and the perturbation of neuronal Ca2+ homeostasis induced by a toxic glutamate challenge. Digital fluorescence imaging techniques were employed to monitor simultaneously changes in cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and mitochondrial potential (DeltaPsim) in individual hippocampal neurones in culture coloaded with fura-2 AM or fura-2FF AM and rhodamine 123 (Rh 123). 2. In most cells (96 %) at 6-7 days in vitro (DIV) and in a small proportion of cells (29 %) at 11-17 DIV the [Ca2+]i increase induced by exposure to 100 microM glutamate for 10 min was associated with a small mitochondrial depolarisation, followed by mitochondrial repolarisation, and a degree of recovery of [Ca2+]i following glutamate washout. In the majority of neurones at 11-17 DIV (71 %), exposure to glutamate for 10 min induced a profound mono- or biphasic mitochondrial depolarisation, which was clearly correlated with a sustained [Ca2+]i plateau despite the removal of glutamate. 3. Addition of glutamate receptor antagonists (15 microM MK-801 plus 75 microM 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2, 3-dione (CNQX)) to the washout solution did not affect the post-glutamate [Ca2+]i plateau in neurones exhibiting a profound mitochondrial depolarisation but greatly improved [Ca2+]i recovery in those neurones undergoing only a small mitochondrial depolarisation, suggesting that the release of endogenous glutamate delays [Ca2+]i recovery in the postglutamate period. 4. Cyclosporin A (500 nM) or N-methyl Val-4-cyclosporin A (200 nM) delayed or even prevented the development of the second phase of mitochondrial depolarisation in cells at 11-17 DIV and increased the proportion of neurones exhibiting a small monophasic mitochondrial depolarisation and [Ca2+]i recovery upon glutamate removal. 5. We have thus described a striking correlation between mitochondrial depolarisation and the failure of cells to restore [Ca2+]i following a toxic glutamate challenge. These data suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a major role in the deregulation of [Ca2+]i associated with glutamate toxicity.

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