Joshua D. Bell, Theresa Currier Thomas, Elliot Lass, Jinglu Ai, Hoyee Wan, Jonathan Lifshitz, Andrew J. Baker and R. Loch Macdonald
Glutamate is important in the pathogenesis of brain damage after cerebral ischemia and traumatic brain injury. Notably, brain extracellular and cerebrospinal fluid as well as blood glutamate concentrations increase after experimental and clinical trauma. While neurons are one potential source of glutamate, platelets also release glutamate as part of their recruitment and might mediate neuronal damage. This study investigates the hypothesis that platelet microthrombi release glutamate that mediates excitotoxic brain injury and neuron dysfunction after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).
The authors used two models, primary neuronal cultures exposed to activated platelets, as well as a whole-animal SAH preparation. Propidium iodide was used to evaluate neuronal viability, and surface glutamate receptor staining was used to evaluate the phenotype of platelet-exposed neurons.
The authors demonstrate that thrombin-activated platelet-rich plasma releases glutamate, at concentrations that can exceed 300 μM. When applied to neuronal cultures, this activated plasma is neurotoxic, and the toxicity is attenuated in part by glutamate receptor antagonists. The authors also demonstrate that exposure to thrombin-activated platelets induces marked downregulation of the surface glutamate receptor glutamate receptor 2, a marker of excitotoxicity exposure and a possible mechanism of neuronal dysfunction. Linear regression demonstrated that 7 days after SAH in rats there was a strong correlation between proximity to microthrombi and reduction of surface glutamate receptors.
The authors conclude that platelet-mediated microthrombosis contributes to neuronal glutamate receptor dysfunction and might mediate brain injury after SAH.
Alteration in voltage-dependent calcium channels in dog basilar artery after subarachnoid hemorrhage
Elena Nikitina, Ayako Kawashima, Masataka Takahashi, Zhen-Du Zhang, Xueyuan Shang, Jinglu Ai and R. Loch Macdonald
The L-type Ca++ channel antagonists like nimodipine have limited efficacy against vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The authors tested the hypothesis that this is because SAH alters these channels, rendering them less responsible for contraction.
Basilar artery smooth muscle cells were isolated 4, 7, and 21 days after SAH in dogs, and Ca++ channel currents were recorded in 10-mmol/L barium. Proteins for α1 subunits of L-type Ca++ channels were measured by immunoblotting and isometric tension recordings done on rings of the basilar artery.
High voltage–activated (HVA) Ca++ channel currents were significantly decreased and low voltage–activated (LVA) currents increased during vasospasm 4, 7, and 21 days after SAH (p < 0.05). Vasospasm was associated with a significant decrease in the number of cells with negligible LVA current while the number of cells in which the LVA current formed greater than 50% of the maximal current increased (p < 0.01). Window currents through LVA and HVA channels were significantly reduced. All changes correlated with the severity of vasospasm. There was an increase in protein for Cav3.1 and Cav3.3 α1 subunits that comprise T-type Ca++ channels, a decrease in L-type (Cav1.2 and Cav1.3) and an increase in R-type (Cav2.3) Ca++ channel α1 subunits. Functionally, however, isometric tension studies showed vasospastic arteries still relaxed with nimodipine.
Voltage-dependent Ca++ channels are altered in cerebral arteries after SAH. While decreased L-type channels may account for the lack of efficacy of nimodipine clinically, there may be other reasons such as inadequate dose, effect of nimodipine on other cellular targets, and mechanisms of vasospasm other than smooth muscle contraction mediated by activation of L-type Ca++ channels.