Aquaporin-4 regulates the velocity and frequency of cortical spreading depression in mice.

Xiaoming Yao, Alex J Smith, Byung-Ju Jin, Zsolt Zador, Geoffrey T Manley, A S Verkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The astrocyte water channel aquaporin-4 (AQP4) regulates extracellular space (ECS) K(+) concentration ([K(+)]e) and volume dynamics following neuronal activation. Here, we investigated how AQP4-mediated changes in [K(+)]e and ECS volume affect the velocity, frequency, and amplitude of cortical spreading depression (CSD) depolarizations produced by surface KCl application in wild-type (AQP4(+/+)) and AQP4-deficient (AQP4(-/-)) mice. In contrast to initial expectations, both the velocity and the frequency of CSD were significantly reduced in AQP4(-/-) mice when compared with AQP4(+/+) mice, by 22% and 32%, respectively. Measurement of [K(+)]e with K(+)-selective microelectrodes demonstrated an increase to ∼35 mM during spreading depolarizations in both AQP4(+/+) and AQP4(-/-) mice, but the rates of [K(+)]e increase (3.5 vs. 1.5 mM/s) and reuptake (t1/2 33 vs. 61 s) were significantly reduced in AQP4(-/-) mice. ECS volume fraction measured by tetramethylammonium iontophoresis was greatly reduced during depolarizations from 0.18 to 0.053 in AQP4(+/+) mice, and 0.23 to 0.063 in AQP4(-/-) mice. Analysis of the experimental data using a mathematical model of CSD propagation suggested that the reduced velocity of CSD depolarizations in AQP4(-/-) mice was primarily a consequence of the slowed increase in [K(+)]e during neuronal depolarization. These results demonstrate that AQP4 effects on [K(+)]e and ECS volume dynamics accelerate CSD propagation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1860–1869
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • AQP4
  • CSD
  • astrocyte
  • extracellular space
  • potassium


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