Author(s): Scharfman HE, Binder DK
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Abstract Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) is the major water channel expressed in the central nervous system (CNS) and is primarily expressed in glial cells. Many studies have shown that AQP4 regulates the response of the CNS to insults or injury, but far less is known about the potential for AQP4 to influence synaptic plasticity or behavior. Recent studies have examined long-term potentiation (LTP), long-term depression (LTD), and behavior in AQP4 knockout (KO) and wild-type mice to gain more insight into its potential role. The results showed a selective effect of AQP4 deletion on LTP of the Schaffer collateral pathway in hippocampus using an LTP induction protocol that simulates pyramidal cell firing during theta oscillations (theta-burst stimulation; TBS). However, LTP produced by a different induction protocol was unaffected. There was also a defect in LTD after low frequency stimulation (LFS) in AQP4 KO mice. Interestingly, some slices from AQP4 KO mice exhibited LTD after TBS instead of LTP, or LTP following LFS instead of LTD. These data suggest that AQP4 and astrocytes influence the polarity of long-term synaptic plasticity (potentiation or depression). These potentially powerful roles expand the influence of AQP4 and astrocytes beyond the original suggestions related to regulation of extracellular potassium and water balance. Remarkably, AQP4 KO mice did not show deficits in basal transmission, suggesting specificity for long-term synaptic plasticity. The mechanism appears to be related to neurotrophins and specifically brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) because pharmacological blockade of neurotrophin trk receptors or scavenging ligands such as BDNF restored plasticity. The in vitro studies predicted effects in vivo of AQP4 deletion because AQP4 KO mice performed worse using a task that requires memory for the location of objects (object placement). However, performance on other hippocampal-dependent tasks was spared. The results suggest an unanticipated and selective role of AQP4 in synaptic plasticity and spatial memory, and underscore the growing appreciation of the role of glial cells in functions typically attributed to neurons. Implications for epilepsy are discussed because of the previous evidence that AQP4 influences seizures, and the role of synaptic plasticity in epileptogenesis. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Neurochem Int
and referenced in Journal of Alzheimers Disease & Parkinsonism