Spreading depolarizations (SD) indicate infarct maturation and predict worse clinical outcome in ischemic stroke. We demonstrate here in rodents that brain edema formation upon ischemic stroke impairs astroglial glutamate clearance and increases the tissue area invaded by SD. The cytotoxic glutamate accumulation predisposes an extensive bulk of tissue for a yet undescribed simultaneous depolarization (SiD). We confirm in rat brain slices under hypo-osmotic stress that SiD is the pathological expansion of prior SD foci, is associated with astrocyte swelling and triggers oncotic neuron death. The blockade of astrocytic aquaporin-4 channels and Na+/K+/Cl- co-transporters, or volume-regulated anion channels mitigated slice edema, glutamate accumulation and SiD occurrence. Reversal of slice edema by hyperosmotic treatment counteracted glutamate accumulation and prevented SiD. In contrast, paralysis of astrocyte metabolism or inhibition of astrocyte glutamate uptake reproduced the SiD phenotype. We discuss our results in the light of evidence for SiD in the human cortex. Our results emphasize the need of preventive osmotherapy in ischemic stroke.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience