Cell volume regulation (CVR) is essential for all types of cells in the central nervous system (CNS) to counteract cell volume changes that may be associated with neuronal activities or diseases and with osmosensing in the hypothalamus, to facilitate morphological changes during cell proliferation, differentiation and migration, and to execute apoptosis of cells. The regulation is attained by regulating the net influx or efflux of solutes and water across the plasma membrane. The volume-sensitive outwardly rectifying (VSOR) anion channel plays a major role in providing a pathway for anion flux during the regulation. The VSOR anion channel is permeable not only to Cl(-) ions but also to amino acids like glutamate and taurine. This property confers a means of intercellular communications through the opening of the channel in the CNS. Thus exploring the roles of VSOR anion channels is crucial to understand the basic principles of cellular functions in the CNS. Here we review biophysical and pharmacological characteristics of the VSOR anion channel in the CNS, discuss its activation mechanisms and roles in the CNS reported so far, and give some perspectives on the next issues to be examined in the near future.
Keywords: anion channel; cell volume regulation; glutamate; intercellular signaling; taurine.
Copyright © 2014 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.