Cell swelling and a nonselective cation channel regulated by internal Ca2+ and ATP in native reactive astrocytes from adult rat brain.
Swelling of astrocytes in the brain is a major cause of the morbidity and mortality associated with stroke and head trauma. Using a human astrocytoma cell line (UC-11MG) as a model system, we studied cell volume changes caused by ATP depletion under conditions mimicking hypoxia. ATP levels were reduced to less than 10% of control using the metabolic inhibitors KCN or antimycin in combination with glucose deprivation. This was sufficient to eliminate ouabain-sensitive 86Rb+ uptake, indicating the Na+-K+-adenosinetriphosphatase was not operating. Furosemide-sensitive 86Rb+ uptake was reduced by approximately 60%, indicating Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransport was also sensitive to ATP loss. ATP depletion resulted in a 30-40% reduction of cell volume within 60 min. ATP depletion also resulted in a net loss of intracellular K+. This loss of K+ could be blocked by Ba2+, indicating the K+ loss was through a conductive channel. When the net K+ loss was blocked by Ba2+, the volume decrease was also prevented. The cells remained viable throughout the time period as judged by exclusion of ethidium bromide by 99% of the cells and recovery of ATP levels to 75% of control within 60 min. We conclude that ATP depletion, following inhibition of glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, causes astrocytes to shrink because of a more rapid loss of K+ than uptake of Na+. Thus it appears that ATP depletion alone is not sufficient to account for the rapid phase of astrocytic swelling observed during cerebral ischemia.