Furosemide depresses the presynaptic fiber volley and modifies frequency-dependent axonal excitability in rat hippocampus

J Neurophysiol. 2017 Apr 1;117(4):1512-1523. doi: 10.1152/jn.00704.2016. Epub 2017 Jan 18.


The loop diuretic furosemide is known to have anticonvulsant effects, believed to be exerted through blockade of glial Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransport causing altered volume regulation in brain tissue. The possibility that direct effects of furosemide on neuronal properties could also be involved is supported by previous observations, but such effects have not been thoroughly investigated. In the present study we show that furosemide has two opposing effects on stimulus-induced postsynaptic excitation in the nonepileptic rat hippocampal slice: 1) an enhancement of e-s coupling, which depended on intact GABAA transmission and was partially mimicked by selective blockade of K+-2Cl- cotransport, and 2) a decrement of field excitatory postsynaptic potentials. The balance between these effects varied, depending on the amount of synaptic drive. In addition, the compound action potential (fiber volley) recorded from the stimulated Schaffer collateral axons in stratum radiatum showed a progressive decrease during perfusion of furosemide. This effect was activity-independent, was mimicked by the stilbene derivative DIDS, and could be reproduced on fiber volleys in the alveus. Furosemide also reduced the initial enhancement of the fiber volley observed during trains of high-frequency stimulation (HFS). Results of hyperosmotic expansion of the extracellular volume, with 30 mM sucrose, indicated that both the induction and antagonism of the HFS-induced enhancement were independent of signaling via the extracellular space. Furosemide caused an increased decay of paired-pulse-induced supranormal axonal excitability, which was antagonized by ZD7288. We conclude that furosemide decreases axonal excitability and prevents HFS-induced hyperexcitability via mechanisms downstream of blockage of anion transport, which could include hyperpolarization of axonal membranes.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study shows that the anion transporter antagonists furosemide and DIDS cause a marked decrease of axonal excitability in rat hippocampal CA1 region and prevent the induction of activity-dependent hyperexcitability in Schaffer collateral axons. The data are consistent with direct effects on axonal membrane properties. We also find that activity-dependent enhancement and depression of axonal excitability can be modified independently, suggesting that these events are governed by different underlying processes.

Keywords: anion transport; axon; excitability; fiber volley; furosemide.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysics
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects*
  • Furosemide / pharmacology*
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / drug effects*
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Pyrimidines
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors
  • Sweetening Agents
  • ICI D2788
  • Sucrose
  • Furosemide