Carbogen-Induced Respiratory Acidosis Blocks Experimental Seizures by a Direct and Specific Inhibition of NaV1.2 Channels in the Axon Initial Segment of Pyramidal Neurons

Robert J. Hatch, Géza Berecki, Nikola Jancovski, Melody Li, Ben Rollo, Paymaan Jafar-Nejad, Frank Rigo, Kai Kaila, Christopher A. Reid, Steven Petrou

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Brain pH is a critical factor for determining neuronal activity, with alkalosis increasing and acidosis reducing excitability. Acid shifts in brain pH through the breathing of carbogen (5% CO2/95% O2) reduces seizure susceptibility in animal models and patients. The molecular mechanisms underlying this seizure protection remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we demonstrate that male and female mice exposed to carbogen are fully protected from thermogenic-triggered seizures. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings revealed that acid shifts in extracellular pH (pHo) significantly reduce action potential firing in CA1 pyramidal neurons but did not alter firing in hippocampal inhibitory interneurons. In real-time dynamic clamp experiments, acidification reduced simulated action potential firing generated in hybrid model neurons expressing the excitatory neuron predominant NaV1.2 channel. Conversely, acidification had no effect on action potential firing in hybrid model neurons expressing the interneuron predominant NaV1.1 channel. Furthermore, knockdown of Scn2a mRNA in vivo using antisense oligonucleotides reduced the protective effects of carbogen on seizure susceptibility. Both carbogen-mediated seizure protection and the reduction in CA1 pyramidal neuron action potential firing by low pHo were maintained in an Asic1a knock-out mouse ruling out this acid-sensing channel as the underlying molecular target. These data indicate that the acid-mediated reduction in excitatory neuron firing is mediated, at least in part, through the inhibition of NaV1.2 channels, whereas inhibitory neuron firing is unaffected. This reduction in pyramidal neuron excitability is the likely basis of seizure suppression caused by carbogen-mediated acidification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1658-1667
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • action potentials
  • excitability
  • neurons
  • pH
  • seizures
  • sodium channels

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