GABA is not elevated during neuroprotective neuronal depression in the hypoxic epaulette shark
Prolonged hypoxic exposure results in cell failure, glutamate excitotoxicity and apoptosis in the brain. The epaulette shark can withstand prolonged hypoxic exposure without brain injury, while maintaining normal function and activity at tropical temperatures. We examined whether the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA was involved in hypoxia tolerance and neuroprotection during hypoxic preconditioning. Sharks were exposed to either cyclic hypoxic preconditioning or normoxic conditions. Whole brain GABA concentration was determined using high performance liquid chromatography; GABA distribution in neuronal structures was localised with immunohistochemistry and quantified. While the overall brain level of GABA was not significantly different, there was a significant heterogeneous change in GABA distribution. GABA immunoreactivity was elevated in key motor and sensory nuclei from preconditioned animals, including the nucleus motorius nervi vagi and the cerebellar crest (pb0.001), corresponding to areas of previously reported neuronal hypometabolism. Since the neuroprotection in all other hypoxia and anoxia tolerant species examined so far relies in part on significant elevations in GABA and the phylogenetically older epaulette shark does not, it is reasonable to assume that further research in this unique animal model may yield clues to new key modulators of neuroprotection. Understanding such mechanisms may facilitate the development of therapeutic interventions in the treatment of transient ischaemic attacks, strokes and traumatic brain injury.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology