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Title: Intracellular Calcium Dynamics In Dendrites Of Hippocampal Neurons Rendered Epileptic And In Processes Of Astrocytes Following Glutamate Pretreatment
Authors: Padmashri, R
Advisors: Sikdar, S K
Keywords: Calcium - Biochemistry
Calcium Ion Signaling
Voltage-gated Ion Channels
Hippocampal Neurons
Calcium Dynamics
Status Epilepticus (SE)
Astrocyte Pairs
Submitted Date: Aug-2006
Series/Report no.: G20527
Abstract: The fundamental attribute of neurons is their cellular electrical excitability, which is based on the expression of a plethora of ligand- and voltage-gated membrane channels that give rise to prominent membrane currents and membrane potential variations that represent the biophysical substrate underlying the transfer and integration of information at the cellular level. Dendrites have both an electrical and a biochemical character, which are closely linked. In contrast, glial cells are non-electrically excitable but nevertheless display a form of excitability that is based on variations of the Ca2+ concentration in the cytosol rather than electrical changes in the membrane. Cytoplasmic Ca2+ serves as an intracellular signal that is responsible for controlling a multitude of cellular processes. The key to this pleiotropic role is the complex spatiotemporal organization of the [Ca2+]i rise evoked by extracellular agonists, which allows selected effectors to be recruited and specific actions to be initiated. Ca2+ handling in the cell is maintained by operation of multiple mechanisms of Ca2+ influx, internal release, diffusion, buffering and extrusion. Ca2+ tends to be a rather parochial operator with a small radius of action from its point of entry at the cytoplasm resulting in the concept of microdomains. Dendritic Ca2+ signaling have been shown to be highly compartmentalized and astrocytic processes have been reported to be constituted by hundreds of microdomains that represent the elementary units of the astrocyte Ca2+ signal, from where it can eventually propagate to other regions of the cell. The astrocyte Ca2+ elevation may thus act as intra and intercellular signal that can propagate within and between astrocytes, signaling to different regions of the cell and to different cells. The spatio-temporal features of neuron-to-astrocyte communication, results from diverse neurotransmitters and signaling pathways that converge and cooperate to shape the Ca2+ signal in astrocytes. Alterations in Ca2+ homeostasis have been shown to be associated with major pathological conditions of the brain such as epilepsy, ischemia and neurodegenerative diseases. Although there are evidences of Ca2+ rise in hippocampal neurons in in vitro models of epilepsy (Pal et al., 1999; Limbrick et al., 2001), there is no information on the Ca2+ regulatory mechanisms operating in discrete compartments of the epileptic neuron following Ca2+ influx through voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs). In the first part of the work, the spatial and temporal profiles of depolarization induced changes in the intracellular Ca2+ concentration in the dendrites of cultured autaptic hippocampal pyramidal neurons rendered epileptic experimentally have been addressed. Our in vitro epilepsy model consisted of hippocampal neurons in autaptic culture that were grown in the presence of kynurenate and high Mg2+, and subsequently washing the preparation free of the blockers. To understand the differences in Ca2+ handling mechanisms in different compartments of a control neuron and the kynurenate treated neuron, a combination of whole-cell patch-clamp recording and fast Ca2+ imaging methods using the Ca2+ indicator Oregon Green 488 BAPTA-1 was applied. All our analysis was focused on localized regions in the dendrite that showed pronounced Ca2+ transients upon activation of high voltage activated (HVA) Ca2+ channels. The spatial extent of Ca2+ signals suggested the presence of distinct dendritic compartments that respond to the depolarizing stimulus. Further, the local Ca2+ transients were observed even in the presence of NMDA and AMPA receptor antagonists, suggesting that the opening of VGCCs primarily triggered the local Ca2+ changes. The prominent changes in intracellular Ca2+ observed in these dendritic regions appear to be sites where Ca2+ evoked dendritic exocytosis (CEDE) takes place. Since cellular Ca2+ buffers determine the amplitude and diffusional spread of neuronal Ca2+ signals, quantitative estimates of the time-dependent spread of intracellular Ca2+ in the dendritic compartments in the control and treated neurons were done using image processing techniques. Physiological changes in Ca2+ channel functioning were also induced by kynurenate treatment and one such noticeable difference was the observation of Ca2+ dependent inactivation in the treated neurons. We provide evidences of localized Ca2+ changes in the dendrites of hippocampal neurons that are rendered epileptic by kynurenate treatment, suggesting that these sites are more vulnerable (Padmashri et al., 2006). This might contribute to the epileptiform activity by local changes in cellular and membrane properties in complex ways that remains to be clearly understood. Status Epilepticus (SE), stroke and traumatic brain injury are all associated with large increases in extracellular glutamate concentrations. The concentration of glutamate in the extracellular fluid is around 3-4 µM and astrocytes are primarily responsible for the uptake of glutamate at the synapses. The extracellular levels of glutamate has been shown to increase dramatically (16 fold) in human SE suggesting an important role of glutamate in the mechanism of seizure activity and seizure related brain damage (Carlson et al., 1992). Several other studies have also shown a persistent increase in extracellular glutamate concentration to potentially neurotoxic concentrations in the epileptogenic hippocampus (During and Spencer, 1993; Sherwin, 1999; Cavus et al., 2005). We addressed the problem related to the effects of prolonged glutamate pretreatment on Ca2+ signaling in an individual astrocyte and its adjoining astrocyte (astrocyte pair), rather than on a syncytium of astrocytes in culture. Individual astrocytes may have functional domains that respond to an agonist through distinct receptor signaling systems. These are difficult to observe in studies that are done on glial syncytium because of spatial limits of image capture. This was examined with simultaneous somatic patch-pipette recording of a single astrocyte to evoke voltage-gated calcium currents, and Ca2+ imaging using the Ca2+ indicator Oregon Green 488 BAPTA-1 to identify the Ca2+ microdomains. Transient Ca2+ changes locked to the depolarization were observed in certain compartments in the astrocyte processes of the depolarized astrocyte and the responses were more pronounced in the adjoining astrocyte of the astrocyte pair. The Ca2+ transient amplitudes were enhanced on pretreatment of cells with glutamate (500 µM for 20 minutes). Estimation of local Ca2+ diffusion coefficients in the astrocytic processes indicated higher values in the adjoining astrocyte of the glutamate pretreated group. In order to understand the underlying mechanisms, we performed the experiments in the presence of different blockers for the metabotropic glutamate receptor, inositol 1,4,5 triphosphate (IP3) receptors and gap junctions. Ca2+ transients recorded on pretreatment of cells with glutamate showed attenuated responses in the presence of the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) antagonist α-Methyl(4-Carboxy-Phenyl) Glycine (MCPG). Intracellular heparin (an antagonist of IP3 receptor) introduced in the depolarized astrocyte did not affect the Ca2+ transients in the heparin loaded astrocyte, but attenuated the [Ca2+]i responses in the adjoining astrocyte suggesting that IP3 may be the transfer signal. The uncoupling agent 1-Octanol attenuated the [Ca2+]i responses in the adjoining cell of the astrocyte pair in both the control and glutamate pretreated astrocytes indicating the role of gap junctional communication. The findings of [Ca2+]i responses within discrete regions of astrocytic processes suggest that astrocytes may be comprised of microdomains whose properties are altered by glutamate pretreatment. The data also indicates that glutamate induced alterations in Ca2+ signaling in the astrocyte pair may be mediated through phospholipase C (PLC), IP3, internal Ca2+ stores, VGCCs and gap junction channels (Padmashri and Sikdar, 2006). Neuronal (EAAC-1) and glial (GLT-1 and GLAST) glutamate transporters facilitate glutamate reuptake after synaptic release. Transgenic mice with GLT-1 knockout display spontaneous epileptic activity (Tanaka et al., 1997) and loss of glial glutamate transporters using chronic antisense nucleotide administration was reported to result in elevated extracellular glutamate levels and neurodegeneration characteristic of excitotoxity (Rothstein et al., 1996). Dysfunction of glutamate transporters and the resulting increase of glutamate have been speculated to play an important role in infantile epilepsies (Demarque et al., 2004). We examined the effects of pretreatment with glutamate in the presence of the glutamate transport inhibitor threo-β-hydroxy-aspartate (TBHA) and in Na+-free extracellular medium to understand whether this resulted in any alteration in the astrocytic intracellular Ca2+ dynamics following activation of voltage gated calcium channels. The Ca2+ responses were found to be attenuated in both the cases indicating that the elevated levels of extracellular glutamate due to blockade of glutamate transporters may influence the responses mediated by the astrocytic glutamate receptors. Our studies indicate that the heightened extracellular glutamate concentration is not gliotoxic in our experimental system, although it may have a profound effect on altering the activity of surrounding neurons which was not addressed in the present work. Several studies have indicated that neurons control the level of gap junction mediated communication between astrocytes (Giaume and McCarthy, 1996; Rouach et al, 2000). All our earlier studies were done on process bearing astrocytes that were co-cultured with neurons. We have addressed the question as to whether the spatio-temporal changes in [Ca2+]i in astrocyte pairs differ if the astrocytes are cultured in the absence of neurons. The results indicate that there is indeed a significant reduction in the responses that are evoked in response to the depolarization pulse in the adjoining cell of the astrocyte pair. These experiments demonstrate that neurons in the cocultures may selectively enhance the Ca2+ responses possibly by increasing the coupling between the two cells.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2005/450
Appears in Collections:Molecular Biophysics Unit (mbu)

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