A normally functioning nervous system requires normal extracellular potassium ion concentration ([K]o). Throughout the nervous system, several processes, including those of an astrocytic nature, are involved in [K]o regulation. In this study we investigated the effect of astrocytic photostimulation on [K]o. We hypothesized that in vivo photostimulation of eNpHR-expressing astrocytes leads to a decreased [K]o. Using optogenetic and electrophysiological techniques we showed that stimulation of eNpHR-expressing astrocytes resulted in a significantly decreased resting [K]o and evoked K responses. The amplitude of the concomitant spreading depolarization-like events also decreased. Our results imply that astrocytic membrane potential modification could be a potential tool for adjusting the [K]o.
Keywords: astrocyte; astrocyte membrane potential; extracellular potassium concentration; halorhodopsin; hyperpolarization.