Secondary injury following acute brain insults significantly contributes to poorer neurological outcome. The spontaneous, recurrent occurrence of spreading depolarization events (SD) has been recognized as a potent secondary injury mechanism in subarachnoid hemorrhage, malignant ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury. In addition, SD is the underlying mechanism of the aura symptoms of migraineurs. The susceptibility of the nervous tissue to SD is subject to the metabolic status of the tissue, the ionic composition of the extracellular space, and the functional status of ion pumps, voltage-gated and other cation channels, glutamate receptors and excitatory amino acid transporters. All these mechanisms tune the excitability of the nervous tissue. Aging has also been found to alter SD susceptibility, which appears to be highest at young adulthood, and decline over the aging process. The lower susceptibility of the cerebral gray matter to SD in the old brain may be caused by the age-related impairment of mechanisms implicated in ion translocations between the intra- and extracellular compartments, glutamate signaling and surplus potassium and glutamate clearance. Even though the aging nervous tissue is thus less able to sustain SD, the consequences of SD recurrence in the old brain have proven to be graver, possibly leading to accelerated lesion maturation. Taken that recurrent SDs may pose an increased burden in the aging injured brain, the benefit of therapeutic approaches to restrict SD generation and propagation may be particularly relevant for elderly patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology