Loss of perivascular aquaporin 4 may underlie deficient water and K + homeostasis in the human epileptogenic hippocampus

Tore Eid, Tih Shih W. Lee, Marion J. Thomas, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Lars P. Bjørnsen, Dennis D. Spencer, Peter Agre, Ole P. Ottersen, Nihal C. De Lanerolle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


An abnormal accumulation of extracellular K+ in the brain has been implicated in the generation of seizures in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) and hippocampal sclerosis. Experimental studies have shown that clearance of extracellular K+ is compromised by removal of the perivascular pool of the water channel aquaporin 4 (AQP4), suggesting that an efficient clearance of K+ depends on a concomitant water flux through astrocyte membranes. Therefore, we hypothesized that loss of perivascular AQP4 might be involved in the pathogenesis of MTLE. Whereas Western blot analysis showed an overall increase in AQP4 levels in MTLE compared with non-MTLE hippocampi, quantitative ImmunoGold electron microscopy revealed that the density of AQP4 along the perivascular membrane domain of astrocytes was reduced by 44% in area CA1 of MTLE vs. non-MTLE hippocampi. There was no difference in the density of AQP4 on the astrocyte membrane facing the neuropil. Because anchoring of AQP4 to the perivascular astrocyte endfoot membrane depends on the dystrophin complex, the localization of the 71-kDa brain-specific isoform of dystrophin was assessed by immunohistochemistry. In non-MTLE hippocampus, dystrophin was preferentially localized near blood vessels. However, in the MTLE hippocampus, the perivascular dystrophin was absent in sclerotic areas, suggesting that the loss of perivascular AQP4 is secondary to a disruption of the dystrophin complex. We postulate that the loss of perivascular AQP4 in MTLE is likely to result in a perturbed flux of water through astrocytes leading to an impaired buffering of extracellular K+ and an increased propensity for seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1193-1198
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 25 2005


  • Astrocytes
  • Dystrophin
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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