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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Decreased potassium-stimulated release of [3H]D-aspartate from hippocampal slices distinguishes encephalopathy related to acute liver failure from that induced by simple hyperammonemia.

The calcium-dependent, high (65 mM) potassium-evoked release of the L-glutamate analogue [3H]D-aspartate (D-Asp) was measured in hippocampal slices derived from rats with (a) hepatic encephalopathy (HE) induced with a hepatotoxin, thioacetamide, (b) hyperammonemia produced by i.p. administration of ammonium acetate, and (c) in normal slices preincubated for 30 min with 1 mM ammonium acetate. HE (variant a) inhibited the release by about 30%, which was interpreted to indicate depressed exocytosis of synaptic glutamate. This phenomenon is likely to lead to a decrease of glutamate-mediated neural excitation, which in turn could contribute to the neural inhibition typical of HE. By contrast, and in agreement with earlier reports, hyperammonemia (variant b) did not affect D-Asp release, whereas in vitro treatment of the slices with ammonium acetate (variant c) resulted in a 60% increase of the release. Hence, impairment of synaptic glutamate exocytosis is the phenomenon that distinguishes HE related to toxic liver failure from simple hyperammonemia. This result emphasizes the role of other factors than ammonia in the pathophysiological mechanism of HE.[1]


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