Characterization of Inhibitory GABA-A Receptor Activation during Spreading Depolarization in Brain Slice. Academic Article uri icon


  • Spreading depolarization (SD) is a slowly propagating wave of near complete depolarizations of neurons and glia. Previous studies have reported large GABA releases during SD, but there is limited understanding of how GABA release and receptor activation are regulated and influence the propagating SD wavefront, as well as an excitatory phase immediately following the passage of SD. The present study characterized GABA-A type receptor (GABAAR) currents during SD generated by KCl microinjection in acute hippocampal slices from adult mice. Spontaneous GABAAR-mediated currents (sIPSCs) were initially enhanced, and were followed by a large outward current at the wavefront. sIPSC were then transiently supressed during the late SD phase, resulting in a significant reduction of the sIPSC/sEPSC ratio. The large outward current generated during SD was eliminated by the GABAAR antagonist gabazine, but the channel potentiator/agonist propofol failed to potentiate the current, likely because of a ceiling effect. Extracellular Cl- decreases recorded during SD were reduced by the antagonist but were not increased by the potentiator. Together with effects of GABAAR modulators on SD propagation rate, these results demonstrate a significant inhibitory role of the initial GABAAR activation and suggest that intracellular Cl- loading is insufficient to generate excitatory GABAAR responses during SD propagation. These results provide a mechanistic explanation for facilitating effects of GABAAR antagonists, and the lack of inhibitory effect of GABAAR potentiators on SD propagation. In addition, selective suppression of GABA transmission in the late SD period and the lack of effect of GABAA modulators on the duration of SD suggests that GABA modulation may not be effective approach to protect neurons during the vulnerable phase of SD.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014