Sodium/hydrogen exchanger 1 (NHE1) plays an essential role in maintaining intracellular pH (pHi) homeostasis in the central nervous system (CNS) under physiological conditions, and it is also associated with neuronal death and intracellular Na+ and Ca2+ overload induced by cerebral ischemia. However, its roles and underlying mechanisms in early brain injury (EBI) induced by subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) have not been fully explored. In this research, a SAH model in adult male rat was established through injecting autologous arterial blood into prechiasmatic cistern. Meanwhile, primary cultured cortical neurons of rat treated with 5 μM oxygen hemoglobin (OxyHb) for 24 h were applied to mimic SAH in vitro. We find that the protein levels of NHE1 are significantly increased in brain tissues of rats after SAH. Downregulation of NHE1 by HOE642 (a specific chemical inhibitor of NHE1) and genetic-knockdown can effectively alleviate behavioral and cognitive dysfunction, brain edema, blood-brain barrier (BBB) injury, inflammatory reactions, oxidative stress, neurondegeneration, and neuronal apoptosis, all of which are involved in EBI following SAH. However, upregulation of NHE1 by genetic-overexpression can produce opposite effects. Additionally, inhibiting NHE1 significantly attenuates OxyHb-induced neuronal apoptosis in vitro and reduces interaction of NHE1 and CHP1 both in vivo and in vitro. Collectively, we can conclude that NHE1 participates in EBI induced by SAH through mediating inflammation, oxidative stress, behavioral and cognitive dysfunction, BBB injury, brain edema, and promoting neuronal degeneration and apoptosis.
Keywords: early brain injury; neuronal apoptosis; sodium/hydrogen exchanger 1; subarachnoid hemorrhage.