Water compartmentalization and extracellular tortuosity after osmotic changes in cerebellum of Trachemys scripta

J Physiol. 1996 May 1;492 ( Pt 3)(Pt 3):887-96. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1996.sp021354.


1. Water compartmentalization in the turtle cerebellum subject to media of different osmolalities was quantified by combining extracellular diffusion analysis with wet weight and dry weight measurements. The diffusion analysis also determined the tortuosity of the extracellular space. 2. Isolated cerebella were immersed in normal, oxygenated physiological saline (302 mosmol kg-1), hypotonic saline (238 mosmol kg-1) and a series of hypertonic salines (up to 668 mosmol kg-1). The osmolality was varied by altering the NaCl content. 3. Extracellular volume fraction and tortuosity of the granular layer of the cerebellum were determined from measurements of ionophoretically induced diffusion profiles of tetramethylammonium, using ion-selective microelectrodes. The volume fraction was 0.22 in normal saline, 0.12 in hypotonic medium and 0.60 in the most hypertonic medium. Tortuosity was 1.70 in the normal saline, 1.79 in the hypotonic and 1.50 in the most hypertonic saline. 4. The water content, defined as (wet weight-dry weight)/wet weight, of a typical isolated cerebellum (including granular, Purkinje cell and molecular layers) was 82.9%. It increased to 85.2% in hypotonic saline and decreased to 80.1% in the most hypertonic saline. 5. Measurements of extracellular volume fraction and water content were combined to show that hypotonic solutions caused water to move from the extracellular to the intracellular compartment while hypertonic solutions caused water to move from the intracellular to extracellular compartment, with only a relatively small changes in total water in both cases. 6. These results suggest the use of the isolated turtle cerebellum as a model system for studying light scattering or diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Fluid Compartments
  • Cerebellum / drug effects
  • Cerebellum / metabolism*
  • Diffusion
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Extracellular Space / drug effects
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Microelectrodes
  • Models, Biological
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Osmotic Pressure* / drug effects
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / pharmacology
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Turtles / metabolism*
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Water
  • Sodium Chloride
  • tetramethylammonium