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Neuron. 2005 Dec 22;48(6):1011-23.

Adenosine and ATP link PCO2 to cortical excitability via pH.

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Neuroscience Program, Department of Neurology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


In addition to affecting respiration and vascular tone, deviations from normal CO(2) alter pH, consciousness, and seizure propensity. Outside the brainstem, however, the mechanisms by which CO(2) levels modify neuronal function are unknown. In the hippocampal slice preparation, increasing CO(2), and thus decreasing pH, increased the extracellular concentration of the endogenous neuromodulator adenosine and inhibited excitatory synaptic transmission. These effects involve adenosine A(1) and ATP receptors and depend on decreased extracellular pH. In contrast, decreasing CO(2) levels reduced extracellular adenosine concentration and increased neuronal excitability via adenosine A(1) receptors, ATP receptors, and ecto-ATPase. Based on these studies, we propose that CO(2)-induced changes in neuronal function arise from a pH-dependent modulation of adenosine and ATP levels. These findings demonstrate a mechanism for the bidirectional effects of CO(2) on neuronal excitability in the forebrain.

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