The epithelial cells of the choroid plexus secrete cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), by a process that involves the movement of Na(+), Cl(-) and HCO(3)(-) from the blood to the ventricles of the brain. This creates the osmotic gradient, which drives the secretion of H(2)O. The unidirectional movement of the ions is achieved due to the polarity of the epithelium, i.e., the ion transport proteins in the blood-facing (basolateral) are different to those in the ventricular (apical) membranes. Saito and Wright (1983) proposed a model for secretion by the amphibian choroid plexus, in which secretion was dependent on activity of HCO(3)(-) channels in the apical membrane. The patch clamp method has now been used to study the ion channels expressed in rat choroid plexus. Two potassium channels have been observed that have a role in maintaining the membrane potential of the epithelial cell, and in regulating the transport of K(+) across the epithelium. An inward-rectifying anion channel has also been identified, which is closely related to ClC-2 channels, and has a significant HCO(3)(-) permeability. This channel is expressed in the apical membrane of the epithelium where it may play an important role in CSF secretion. A model of CSF secretion by the mammalian choroid plexus is proposed that accommodates these channels and other data on the expression of transport proteins in the choroid plexus.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.