From Medical Xpress:

Dr. Sergei Kirov, neuroscientist in the Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Human Brain Lab at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. Credit: Phil Jones

High-efficiency transporters that work like a shuttle system to constantly move ions into and out of neurons appear to slam into reverse following a stroke or other injury and start delivering instead too much water, scientists have found.

It’s called spreading , a wave of death that can follow a stroke or , as and their extensions, called dendrites, become bloated, dysfunctional and vulnerable, said Dr. Sergei Kirov, neuroscientist in the Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Human Brain Lab at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

While swelling is clearly a result of trauma to the , just how gets into neurons was largely a mystery.

In a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Kirov and his colleagues report that a handful of these ion transporters – known to tote some combination of sodium, potassium and chloride – appear to be a missing link in how excess water gets inside.

“They act as molecular water pumps. This is a new way of thinking,” said Kirov. He and Dr. Nanna MacAulay, associate professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen, are co-corresponding authors on the study, which is highlighted in the journal. These transporters also provide new drug targets for treating deadly edema.

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