Effect of ammonia on GABA uptake and release in cultured astrocytes

Alex S. Bender, Michael D. Norenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


While the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is unclear, there is evidence of enhanced GABAergic neurotransmission in this condition. Ammonia is believed to play a major pathogenetic role in HE. To determine whether ammonia might contribute to abnormalities in GABAergic neurotransmission, its effects on GABA uptake and release were studied in cultured astrocytes, cells that appear to be targets of ammonia neurotoxicity. Acutely, ammonium chloride (5 mM) inhibited GABA uptake by 30%, and by 50-60% after 4-day treatment. GABA uptake inhibition was associated with a predominant decrease in V(max); the K(m) was also decreased. Ammonia also enhanced GABA release after 4-day treatment, although such release was initially inhibited. These effects of ammonia (inhibition of GABA uptake and enhanced GABA release) may elevate extracellular levels of GABA and contribute to a dysfunction of GABAergic neurotransmission in HE and other hyperammonemic states. Copyright (C) 2000.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-395
Number of pages7
JournalNeurochemistry International
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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