Date : 02.21.2007

Roles of volume-sensitive chloride channel in excitotoxic neuronal injury

Category : Research Topic
 Division of Correlative Physiology,
Department of Cell Physiology


Excitotoxicity is associated with stroke, brain trauma and a number of neurodegenerative disorders. In the brain, during excitotoxic insults, neurons undergo rapid swelling in both the soma and dendrites. Focal swellings along the dendrites called varicosities are considered to be a hallmark of acute excitotoxic neuronal injury. However, it is not clear what pathway is involved in the neuronal anion flux that leads to the formation and resolution of excitotoxic varicosities. Here, we assessed the roles of the volume-sensitive outwardly rectifying (VSOR) Cl- channel in excitotoxic responses in mouse cortical neurons. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings revealed that the VSOR Cl- channel in cultured neurons was activated by NMDA exposure. Moreover, robust expression of this channel on varicosities was confirmed by on-cell and nystatin-perforated vesicle patch techniques. VSOR channel blockers, but not blockers of GABAA receptors and Cl- transporters, abolished not only varicosity resolution after sublethal excitotoxic stimulation but also necrotic death after sustained varicosity formation induced by prolonged NMDA exposure in cortical neurons. The present slice-patch experiments demonstrated, for the first time, expression of the VSOR Cl- channels in somatosensory pyramidal neurons. NMDA-induced necrotic neuronal death in slice preparations was largely suppressed by a blocker of the VSOR Cl- channel but not of the GABAA receptor. These results indicate that VSOR Cl- channels exert dual, reciprocal actions on neuronal excitotoxicity by serving as major anionic pathways both for varicosity recovery after washout of an excitotoxic stimulant and for persistent varicosity formation under prolonged excitotoxic insults leading to necrosis in cortical neurons.

Published paper

Inoue H & Okada Y (2007) Roles of volume-sensitive chloride channel in excitotoxic neuronal injury. J Neurosci 27: 1445-1455.

[ Figure ]


Schematic illustration of dual roles of the VSOR Cl- channel in mouse cortical neurons under excitotoxic conditions. The VSOR Cl- channel is activated during excitotoxic glutamate stimulation and leads to formation of varicosities (process-1), and later to NVI (necrotic volume increase, process-2) and necrotic cell death (process-3) by inducing NaCl influx in cooperation with GluR cation channels in both process-1 and -2 as well as with GABAAR anion channels in the process-1. The VSOR Cl- channel is also activated after washout of glutamate and leads to resolution of varicosities (process-4) by inducing KCl efflux in cooperation presumably with K+ channels.