The primary goal of this proposal is to investigate mechanisms that may be involved in cerebellar damage and malfunction during brain ischemia. Brain ischemia, which occurs during cardiac arrest, stroke and perinatal asphyxia, is a leading cause of death and long term disability. The cerebellum is a frequent target of stroke, and cerebellar Purkinje cells are one of the most susceptible brain cells to ischemic damage. However, relatively little is known about how Purkinje cells respond to and are damaged by ischemia. This lack of information is problematic because many of the ischemic mechanisms operating in other brain regions involve molecular processes that are either not expressed or have an unusual configuration in Purkinje cells. For this proposal, a brain slice model will be used to simulate brain ischemia in vitro and patch-clamp recording, confocal fluorescence imaging and pharmacological manipulations will be used to investigate mechanisms of cerebellar ischemic damage. Simulated ischemia induces a severe depolarization of Purkinje cells which is mediated by activation of non-NMDA ionotropic glutamate receptors (and possibly other glutamate receptors/transporters) but its onset is delayed by activation of GABAA receptors. These electrophysiological responses are associated with extensive tissue swelling and the subsequent development of necrotic and apoptotic cell death very similar to that observed with in vivo models. Simulated ischemia also severely disrupts electrical signal transduction through the cerebellum and the disruption persists for long periods after the ischemic episode is terminated. Determining the mechanisms that underlie both cellular damage and disrupted signal processing should provide useful information for the development of therapies.
The specific aims of this proposal are: 1) To determine the mechanisms that lead to glutamate accumulation around Purkinje cells, elucidate which receptors mediate the Purkinje cell response and determine their contribution to cell damage;2) To determine the mechanisms by which GABAA receptor activation delays the onset of Purkinje cell depolarization and to determine if the delay is beneficial or damaging;and 3) To determine where in the cerebellar circuitry and by what mechanism electrical signal transduction is disrupted.
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