Whether there is preferential loss of certain types of nerve cells or specific cellular functions after hypoxic or ischemie insults remains unclear. To evaluate this phenomenon in vitro, the vulnerability of GABAergic neurons to hypoxia was investigated both quantitatively and with autoradiography. Immature neuronal cortical cultures obtained from fetal mice were subjected to chronic hypoxia (5% O2) for 24 h or 48 h and then returned to the normoxic condition for 48 h. The shorter hypoxic exposure resulted in significantly reduced numbers of neurons in comparison to the longer exposure and also to controls (29% and 26%, respectively; p < 0.001). LDH efflux, a reliable indicator of cell damage, also was higher after the shorter exposure insult. Nevertheless, in these same 24 h hypoxic cultures there was prominent sparing of those neurons which accumulate GABA: by 48 h of recovery GABAergic neurons constituted 29.3 ± 2.0% of the remaining neuronal population in comparison to 11.6 ± 0.6 and 14.4 ± 0.8% for controls and 48 h hypoxia, respectively; (p < 0.001). Although total GABA uptake per neuron was significantly decreased after both types of insult, there was a concomitant increase in glial GABA uptake (i.e., that which could be displaced by beta-alanine). These observations suggest that certain GABAergic cortical neurons are relatively more resistant to chronic hypoxia than the general neuronal population and that depression of overall neuronal GABA uptake may be associated with enhanced glial GABA uptake.
- GABA uptake
- Neuronal cell culture