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Glia. 2005 Jul;51(1):35-46.

Mechanical strain injury increases intracellular sodium and reverses Na+/Ca2+ exchange in cortical astrocytes.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, California 95616-8797, USA.


Traditionally, astrocytes have been considered less susceptible to injury than neurons. Yet, we have recently shown that astrocyte death precedes neuronal death in a rat model of traumatic brain injury (TBI) (Zhao et al.: Glia 44:140-152, 2003). A main mechanism hypothesized to contribute to cellular injury and death after TBI is elevated intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i). Since calcium regulation is also influenced by regulation of intracellular sodium ([Na+]i), we used an in vitro model of strain-induced traumatic injury and live-cell fluorescent digital imaging to investigate alterations in [Na+]i in cortical astrocytes after injury. Changes in [Na+]i, or [Ca2+]i were monitored after mechanical injury or L-glutamate exposure by ratiometric imaging of sodium-binding benzofuran isophthalate (SBFI-AM), or Fura-2-AM, respectively. Mechanical strain injury or exogenous glutamate application produced increases in [Na+]i that were dependent on the severity of injury or concentration. Injury-induced increases in [Na+]i were significantly reduced, but not completely eliminated, by inhibition of glutamate uptake by DL-threo-beta-benzyloxyaspartate (TBOA). Blockade of sodium-dependent calcium influx through the sodium-calcium exchanger with 2-[2-[4-(4-Nitrobenzyloxy)phenyl]ethyl]isothiourea mesylate (KB-R7943) reduced [Ca2+]i after injury. KB-R7943 also reduced astrocyte death after injury. These findings suggest that in astrocytes subjected to mechanical injury or glutamate excitotoxicity, increases in intracellular Na+ may be a critical component in the injury cascade and a therapeutic target for reduction of lasting deficits after traumatic brain injury.

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