Osmotic forces and gap junctions in spreading depression: a computational model

J Comput Neurosci. 2001 Jan-Feb;10(1):99-120. doi: 10.1023/a:1008924227961.


In a computational model of spreading depression (SD), ionic movement through a neuronal syncytium of cells connected by gap junctions is described electrodiffusively. Simulations predict that SD will not occur unless cells are allowed to expand in response to osmotic pressure gradients and K+ is allowed to move through gap junctions. SD waves of [K+]out approximately 25 to approximately 60 mM moving at approximately 2 to approximately 18 mm/min are predicted over the range of parametric values reported in gray matter, with extracellular space decreasing up to approximately 50%. Predicted waveform shape is qualitatively similar to laboratory reports. The delayed-rectifier, NMDA, BK, and Na+ currents are predicted to facilitate SD, while SK and A-type K+ currents and glial activity impede SD. These predictions are consonant with recent findings that gap junction poisons block SD and support the theories that cytosolic diffusion via gap junctions and osmotic forces are important mechanisms underlying SD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Cortical Spreading Depression / physiology*
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Osmosis
  • Potassium / metabolism


  • Potassium