The negative ultraslow potential, electrophysiological correlate of infarction in the human cortex

Brain. 2018 Jun 1;141(6):1734-1752. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy102.


Spreading depolarizations are characterized by abrupt, near-complete breakdown of the transmembrane ion gradients, neuronal oedema, mitochondrial depolarization, glutamate excitotoxicity and activity loss (depression). Spreading depolarization induces either transient hyperperfusion in normal tissue; or hypoperfusion (inverse coupling = spreading ischaemia) in tissue at risk for progressive injury. The concept of the spreading depolarization continuum is critical since many spreading depolarizations have intermediate characteristics, as opposed to the two extremes of spreading depolarization in either severely ischaemic or normal tissue. In animals, the spreading depolarization extreme in ischaemic tissue is characterized by prolonged depolarization durations, in addition to a slow baseline variation termed the negative ultraslow potential. The negative ultraslow potential is initiated by spreading depolarization and similar to the negative direct current (DC) shift of prolonged spreading depolarization, but specifically refers to a negative potential component during progressive recruitment of neurons into cell death in the wake of spreading depolarization. We here first quantified the spreading depolarization-initiated negative ultraslow potential in the electrocorticographic DC range and the activity depression in the alternate current range after middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. Relevance of these variables to the injury was supported by significant correlations with the cortical infarct volume and neurological outcome after 72 h of survival. We then identified negative ultraslow potential-containing clusters of spreading depolarizations in 11 patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage. The human platinum/iridium-recorded negative ultraslow potential showed a tent-like shape. Its amplitude of 45.0 (39.0, 69.4) mV [median (first, third quartile)] was 6.6 times larger and its duration of 3.7 (3.3, 5.3) h was 34.9 times longer than the negative DC shift of spreading depolarizations in less compromised tissue. Using Generalized Estimating Equations applied to a logistic regression model, we found that negative ultraslow potential displaying electrodes were significantly more likely to overlie a developing ischaemic lesion (90.0%, 27/30) than those not displaying a negative ultraslow potential (0.0%, 0/20) (P = 0.004). Based on serial neuroimages, the lesions under the electrodes developed within a time window of 72 (56, 134) h. The negative ultraslow potential occurred in this time window in 9/10 patients. It was often preceded by a spreading depolarization cluster with increasingly persistent spreading depressions and progressively prolonged DC shifts and spreading ischaemias. During the negative ultraslow potential, spreading ischaemia lasted for 40.0 (28.0, 76.5) min, cerebral blood flow fell from 57 (53, 65) % to 26 (16, 42) % (n = 4) and tissue partial pressure of oxygen from 12.5 (9.2, 15.2) to 3.3 (2.4, 7.4) mmHg (n = 5). Our data suggest that the negative ultraslow potential is the electrophysiological correlate of infarction in human cerebral cortex and a neuromonitoring-detected medical emergency.awy102media15775596049001.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brain Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Infarction / pathology*
  • Brain Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cortical Spreading Depression / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrocorticography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / complications
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / pathology*
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors