Developmental expression of Kir4.1 in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes of rat somatosensory cortex and hippocampus

Ramona Frida Moroni, Francesca Inverardi, Maria Cristina Regondi, Paolo Pennacchio, Carolina Frassoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kir4.1 is the principal K+ channel expressed in glial cells. It has been shown that it plays a fundamental role in K+-spatial buffering, an astrocyte-specific process where excess extracellular concentration of K+ ions, generated by synaptic activity, is spatially redistributed to distant sites via astrocytic syncytia. Experimental and clinical evidence suggested that abnormality of Kir4.1 function in the brain is involved in different neurological diseases such as epilepsy, dysmyelination, and Huntington's disease. Although it has been shown that Kir4.1 is expressed predominantly in astrocytes in certain areas of the rat brain and its transcript is present in the rat forebrain as early as embryonic day E14, no information is available concerning the temporal sequence of Kir4.1 protein appearance during embryonic and post-natal development. Aim of this work was to study the expression pattern of Kir4.1 channel in rat somatosensory cortex and hippocampus during development and to examine its cellular localization with the glial and oligodendroglial markers S100-β, GFAP, and Olig-2. Kir4.1 protein was detected since E20 and a gradual increase of Kir4.1 expression occurred between early postnatal period and adulthood. We showed a gradual shift in Kir4.1 subcellular localization from the soma of astrocytes to distal glial processes. Double immunofluorescence experiments confirmed the cellular localization of Kir4.1 in glial cells. Our data provide the first overview of Kir4.1 developmental expression both in the cortex and hippocampus and support the glial role of Kir4.1 in K+ spatial buffering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Brain development
  • Cortex
  • Glial cells
  • Hippocampus
  • Kir4.1 protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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