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Ionic homeostasis in brain conditioning.

  • Cuomo, Ornella
  • Vinciguerra, Antonio
  • Cerullo, Pierpaolo
  • Anzilotti, Serenella
  • Brancaccio, Paola
  • Bilo, Leonilda
  • Scorziello, Antonella
  • Molinaro, Pasquale
  • Di Renzo, Gianfranco
  • Pignataro, Giuseppe
Published Article
Frontiers in Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2015
DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00277
PMID: 26321902


Most of the current focus on developing neuroprotective therapies is aimed at preventing neuronal death. However, these approaches have not been successful despite many years of clinical trials mainly because the numerous side effects observed in humans and absent in animals used at preclinical level. Recently, the research in this field aims to overcome this problem by developing strategies which induce, mimic, or boost endogenous protective responses and thus do not interfere with physiological neurotransmission. Preconditioning is a protective strategy in which a subliminal stimulus is applied before a subsequent harmful stimulus, thus inducing a state of tolerance in which the injury inflicted by the challenge is mitigated. Tolerance may be observed in ischemia, seizure, and infection. Since it requires protein synthesis, it confers delayed and temporary neuroprotection, taking hours to develop, with a pick at 1-3 days. A new promising approach for neuroprotection derives from post-conditioning, in which neuroprotection is achieved by a modified reperfusion subsequent to a prolonged ischemic episode. Many pathways have been proposed as plausible mechanisms to explain the neuroprotection offered by preconditioning and post-conditioning. Although the mechanisms through which these two endogenous protective strategies exert their effects are not yet fully understood, recent evidence highlights that the maintenance of ionic homeostasis plays a key role in propagating these neuroprotective phenomena. The present article will review the role of protein transporters and ionic channels involved in the control of ionic homeostasis in the neuroprotective effect of ischemic preconditioning and post-conditioning in adult brain, with particular regards to the Na(+)/Ca2(+) exchangers (NCX), the plasma membrane Ca2(+)-ATPase (PMCA), the Na(+)/H(+) exchange (NHE), the Na(+)/K(+)/2Cl(-) cotransport (NKCC) and the acid-sensing cation channels (ASIC). Ischemic stroke is the third leading cause of death and disability. Up until now, all clinical trials testing potential stroke neuroprotectants failed. For this reason attention of researchers has been focusing on the identification of brain endogenous neuroprotective mechanisms activated after cerebral ischemia. In this context, ischemic preconditioning and ischemic post-conditioning represent two neuroprotecive strategies to investigate in order to identify new molecular target to reduce the ischemic damage.

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