Aquaporin-1-mediated cerebral edema following traumatic brain injury: Effects of acidosis and corticosteroid administration

Nam D. Tran, Stefan Kim, Heather K. Vincent, Anthony Rodriguez, David R. Hinton, M. Ross Bullock, Harold F. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Object. Dysregulation of water homeostasis induces cerebral edema. Edema is a major cause of morbidity and mortality following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Aquaporin-1 (AQP-1), a water channel found in the brain, can function as a transporter for CO2 across the cellular membrane. Additionally, AQP-1's promoter contains a glucocorticoid response element. Thus, AQP-1 may be involved with edema-related brain injury and might be modulated by external conditions such as the pH and the presence of steroids. In this study, the authors investigated the hypotheses that: 1) AQP-1 participates in brain water homeostasis following TBI; 2) secondary injury (for example, acidosis) alters the expression of AQP-1 and exacerbates cerebral edema; and 3) corticosteroids augment brain AQP-1 expression and differentially affect cerebral edema under nonacidotic and acidotic conditions. Methods. Anesthetized Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to moderate to severe TBI (2.5-3.5 atm) or surgery without injury, and they were randomized to receive a 3-mg/kg bolus of intravenous dexamethasone within 10 minutes after injury or surgery, a 3-mg/kg bolus of dexamethasone followed by 1-mg/kg maintenance doses every 8 hours for 24 hours, or saline boluses at similar time intervals. A second group of animals was subjected to respiratory acidosis with target arterial blood pH 6.8-7.2 for 1 hour following the surgery or injury. To evaluate selective blockage of AQP-1, some animals received a single intraperitoneal dose of HgCl2 (0.3-30.0 mmol/L) within 30 minutes of injury or surgery. At 4 or 24 hours postinjury, animals were killed and their brains were harvested for mRNA, protein, or water content analyses. Results. The authors demonstrated elevated cerebral edema levels at 4 and 24 hours following TBI. Dexamethasone administration within 1 hour of TBI attenuated the cerebral edema under nonacidotic conditions but worsened it under acidotic conditions. Selective blockage of AQP-1 channels with HgCl2 attenuated the edematous effects of corticosteroids and acidosis. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated a paucity of AQP-1 in the cerebral cortices of the uninjured animals. In contrast, AQP-1 mRNA and protein levels were higher in the cerebral cortices of animals that sustained a TBI. Conclusions. These findings implicate an important, modifiable role for AQP-1 in water homeostasis within the CNS following TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1104
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquaporin-1
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Edema
  • Traumatic brain injury


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