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Publication Detail
Effect of acute exposure to ammonia on glutamate transport in glial cells isolated from the salamander retina
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Mort D, Marcaggi P, Grant J, Attwell D
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    836, 844
  • Journal:
    Journal of Neurophysiology
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    Brain, cation, glutamate, liver, neuron, Neurons, retina, transport
  • Addresses:
    Department of Physiology, University College London, United Kingdom
A rise of brain ammonia level, as occurs in liver failure, initially increases glutamate accumulation in neurons and glial cells. We investigated the effect of acute exposure to ammonia on glutamate transporter currents in whole cell clamped glial cells from the salamander retina. Ammonia potentiated the current evoked by a saturating concentration of L-glutamate, and decreased the apparent affinity of the transporter for glutamate. The potentiation had a Michaelis-Menten dependence on ammonia concentration, with a K(m) of 1.4 mM and a maximum potentiation of 31%. Ammonia also potentiated the transporter current produced by D-aspartate. Potentiation of the glutamate transport current was seen even with glutamine synthetase inhibited, so ammonia does not act by speeding glutamine synthesis, contrary to a suggestion in the literature. The potentiation was unchanged in the absence of Cl(-) ions, showing that it is not an effect on the anion current gated by the glutamate transporter. Ammonium ions were unable to substitute for Na+ in driving glutamate transport. Although they can partially substitute for K+ at the cation counter-transport site of the transporter, their occupancy of these sites would produce a potentiation of < 1%. Ammonium, and the weak bases methylamine and trimethylamine, increased the intracellular pH by similar amounts, and intracellular alkalinization is known to increase glutamate uptake. Methylamine and trimethylamine potentiated the uptake current by the amount expected from the known pH dependence of uptake, but ammonia gave a potentiation that was larger than could be explained by the pH change, and some potentiation of uptake by ammonia was still seen when the internal pH was 8.8, at which pH further alkalinization does not increase uptake. These data suggest that ammonia speeds glutamate uptake both by increasing cytoplasmic pH and by a separate effect on the glutamate transporter. Approximately two-thirds of the speeding is due to the pH change
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