Ammonia-induced astrocyte swelling in primary culture

M. D. Norenberg, L. Baker, L. O.B. Norenberg, J. Blicharska, J. H. Bruce-Gregorios, J. T. Neary

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166 Scopus citations


The effect of ammonia on water space of astrocytes in culture was determined as a means of studying the neurotoxicity of ammonia in fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). Treatment of primary astrocyte cultures obtained from neonatal rat cortices with 10 mM NH4Cl for 4 days resulted in a 29% increase in astrocytic water space, as measured by an isotopic method utilizing 3-O-methyl-[3H]-glucose. this effect was time- and dose-dependent. The ammonia-induced swelling was reversible as the water space in cultures treated with 10 mH NH4Cl for 3 days, and then returned to normal culture media for 1 day, was similar to control cultures. These findings suggest that elevated levels of ammonia lead to astrocyte swelling and may contribute to the brain edema in FHF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-836
Number of pages4
JournalNeurochemical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 1991


  • Ammonia
  • brain edema
  • hepatic encephalopathy
  • hepatic failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry


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