Calcium, energy metabolism and the development of selective neuronal loss following short-term cerebral ischemia

Neil R. Sims

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Short-term cerebral ischemia results in the delayed loss of specific neuronal subpopulations. This review discusses changes in energy metabolism and Ca2+ distribution during ischemia and recirculation and considers the possible contribution of these changes to the development of selective neuronal loss. Severe ischemia results in a rapid decline of ATP content and a subsequent large movement of Ca2+ from the extracellular to the intracellular space. Similar changes are seen in tissue subregions containing neurons destined to die and those areas largely resistant to short-term ischemia, although differences have been observed in Ca2+ uptake between individual neurons. The large accumulation of intracellular Ca2+ is widely considered as a critical initiating event in the development of neuronal loss but, as yet, definitive evidence has not been obtained. The increased intracellular Ca2+ content activates a number of additional processes including lipolysis of phospholipids and degradation or inactivation of some specific proteins, all of which could contribute to altered function on restoration of blood flow to the brain. Reperfusion results in a rapid recovery of ATP production. Cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration is also restored during early recirculation as a result of both removal to the extracellular space and uptake into mitochondria. Within a few hours of recirculation, subtle increases in intracellular Ca2+ and a reduced capacity for mitochondrial respiration have been detected in some ischemia-susceptible regions. Both of these changes could potentially contribute to the development of neuronal loss. More pronounced alterations in Ca2+ homeostasis, resulting in a second period of increased mitochondrial Ca2+, develop with further recirculation in ischemia-susceptible regions. The available evidence suggests that these increases in Ca2+, although developing late, are likely to precede the irreversible loss of neuronal function and may be a necessary contributor to the final stages of this process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)191-217
    Number of pages27
    JournalMetabolic Brain Disease
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 1995

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • calcium
    • energy metabolism
    • excitotoxicity
    • Ischemia
    • mitochondria


    Dive into the research topics of 'Calcium, energy metabolism and the development of selective neuronal loss following short-term cerebral ischemia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this