Neuronal gap junctions are required for NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity: implications in ischemic stroke

Neuronal gap junctions are required for NMDA receptor-mediated excitotoxicity: implications in ischemic stroke
Wang YongfuDenisova Janna강기성Fontes JosephZhu Bao TingBelousov Andrei
Gap junction; NMDA; Excitotoxicity; Stroke
Issue Date
Journal of neurophysiology
VOL 104, NO 6, 3551-3556
Neuronal gap junctions are required for NMDA receptor– mediated excitotoxicity: implications in ischemic stroke. J Neurophysiol 104: 3551–3556, 2010. First published October 13, 2010; doi:10.1152/jn.00656.2010. N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) play an important role in cell survival versus cell death decisions during neuronal development, ischemia, trauma, and epilepsy. Coupling of neurons by electrical synapses (gap junctions) is high or increases in neuronal networks during all these conditions. In the developing CNS, neuronal gap junctions are critical for two different types of NMDAR-dependent cell death. However, whether neuronal gap junctions play a role in NMDAR-dependent neuronal death in the mature CNS was not known. Using Fluoro-Jade B staining, we show that a single intraperitoneal administration of NMDA (100 mg/kg) to adult wild-type mice induces neurodegeneration in three forebrain regions, including rostral dentate gyrus. However, the NMDARmediated neuronal death is prevented by pharmacological blockade of neuronal gap junctions (with mefloquine, 30 mg/kg) and does not occur in mice lacking neuronal gap junction protein, connexin 36. Using Western blots, electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry in wild-type and connexin 36 knockout mice, we show that the reduced level of neuronal death in knockout animals is not caused by the reduced expression of NMDARs, activity of NMDARs, or permeability of the blood– brain barrier to NMDA. In wild-type animals, this neuronal death is not caused by upregulation of connexin 36 by NMDA. Finally, pharmacological and genetic inactivation of neuronal gap junctions in mice also dramatically reduces neuronal death caused by photothrombotic focal cerebral ischemia. The results indicate that neuronal gap junctions are required for NMDAR-dependent excitotoxicity and play a critical
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