Volume 9 Supplement 1
A neural-glial network for modeling spreading depression in cortex
© Gibson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008
Published: 11 July 2008
Background and model
Spreading depression (SD) is a propagating wave of transient neuronal hyperexcitability followed by complete electrical silence that moves slowly (15–50 μm s-1) across grey matter in the central nervous system; it has been implicated in a number of brain disorders . SD involves a massive redistribution of ions (K+, Na+, Ca2+, Cl -) between intracellular and extracellular compartments. Although first described over 60 years ago, it is still not well understood . SD is accompanied by large increases in extracellular ATP, which is a principal means of transmission between astrocytes; also, ATP waves in astrocyte networks move at speeds comparable to SD [2, 3]. These facts, and other evidence , strongly suggest that astrocytes play an important role in SD.
Results and conclusion
The model accounts for the main experimental properties of SD; in particular, the speed of the wave and the accompanying changes in ion concentrations and potentials in the cells and in the extracellular medium (Figure 1 shows one example) and are in broad agreement with those observed [1, 4]. This work supports the hypothesis that SD is a result of neuron-astrocyte interactions involving the neurotransmitters glutamate and ATP. Further experimental work is now needed to justify the detailed interactions proposed by the model.
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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.