Postmortem elevation in extracellular glutamate in the rat hippocampus when brain temperature is maintained at physiological levels: Implications for the use of human brain autopsy tissues

James W. Geddes, Nada G. Chang, David C. Ackley, Natalie S. Soultanian, Joseph P. McGillis, Robert A. Yokel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Postmortem alterations in the neuronal cytoskeleton resemble some aspects of the cytoskeletal disruption associated with neurodegenerative disorders, and are also similar to those observed following ischemia and produced by excitotoxins in vivo and in vitro. This suggests the involvement of excitotoxic mechanisms during the postmortem interval. The purpose of this study was to determine if extracellular levels of glutamate are elevated postmortem. Extracellular levels of GABA and taurine were also monitored using in vivo microdialysis. These three amino acids were analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography. When postmortem rat brain temperature cooled rapidly to near room temperature, dialysate concentrations of glutamate were not increased in the hippocampal CA1 region during a 2-h postmortem interval, although increased extracellular levels of GABA and taurine were observed. In contrast, maintenance of brain temperature at 37°C resulted in a 12-to-40 fold elevation in extracellular glutamate levels 20- 120 min postmortem. In addition, the elevation in dialysate taurine concentration was greater than that observed in rats in which postmortem brain temperature was not maintained. Excitatory amino acid antagonists, NBQX (2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo(F)quinoxaline) and MK-801 (dizocilpine, (+)-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzo[a,d]cylohepten-5,10- imine hydrogen maleate blocked the additional elevation in taurine associated with maintaining brain at 37°C, but had less robust effects against glutamate and GABA release. The results indicate that extracellular concentrations of glutamate, murine and GABA increase in postmortem rat brain when physiologic temperatures are maintained, but that these increases are blunted when brain temperature decreases. After death, the human brain cools much more slowly than does the rat brain. Therefore, extracellular glutamate levels are likely to increase in the postmortem human brain and may contribute to excitotoxic neuronal damage occurring in the interval between death and autopsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-112
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Volume831
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 12 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Novo Nordisk (Denmark) for the generous gift of NBQX. This work was supported by NIA grant AG10678 to JWG.

Keywords

  • Excitatory amino acid
  • HPLC
  • Inhibitory amino acid
  • Microdialysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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