Carbenoxolone inhibits volume-regulated anion conductance in cultured rat cortical astroglia

Channels (Austin). Sep-Oct 2009;3(5):323-36. doi: 10.4161/chan.3.5.9568. Epub 2009 Sep 20.


Accumulating evidence indicate that the gap-junction inhibitor carbenoxolone (CBX) regulates neuronal synchronization, depresses epileptiform activity and has a neuroprotective action. These CBX effects do not depend solely on its ability to inhibit gap junction channels formed by connexins (Cx), but the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Here we addressed the questions whether CBX modulates volume-regulated anion channels (VRAC) involved in the regulatory volume decrease and regulates the associated release of excitatory amino acids in cultured rat cortical astrocytes. We found that CBX inhibits VRAC conductance with potency comparable to that able to depress the activity of the most abundant astroglial gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43). However, the knock down of Cx43 with small interfering RNA (siRNA) oligonucleotides and the use of various pharmacological tools revealed that VRAC inhibition was not mediated by interaction of CBX with astroglial Cx proteins. Comparative experiments in HEK293 cells stably expressing another putative target of CBX, the purinergic ionotropic receptor P2X7, indicate that the presence of this receptor was not necessary for CBX-mediated depression of VRAC. Finally, we show that in COS-7 cells, which are not endowed with pannexin-1 protein, another astroglial plasma membrane interactor of CBX, VRAC current retained its sensitivity to CBX. Complementary analyses indicate that the VRAC-mediated release of excitatory amino acid aspartate was decreased by CBX. Collectively, these findings support the notion that CBX could affect astroglial ability to modulate neuronal activity by suppressing excitatory amino acid release through VRAC, thereby providing a possible mechanistic clue for the neuroprotective effect of CBX in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anions
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / pharmacology
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • COS Cells
  • Carbenoxolone / pharmacology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Connexin 43 / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gap Junctions
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Anions
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Connexin 43
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Carbenoxolone