Direct electrophysiological evidence that spreading depolarization-induced spreading depression is the pathophysiological correlate of the migraine aura and a review of the spreading depolarization continuum of acute neuronal mass injury.Geroscience. 2020 02; 42(1):57-80.G
Spreading depolarization is observed as a large negative shift of the direct current potential, swelling of neuronal somas, and dendritic beading in the brain's gray matter and represents a state of a potentially reversible mass injury. Its hallmark is the abrupt, massive ion translocation between intraneuronal and extracellular compartment that causes water uptake (= cytotoxic edema) and massive glutamate release. Dependent on the tissue's energy status, spreading depolarization can co-occur with different depression or silencing patterns of spontaneous activity. In adequately supplied tissue, spreading depolarization induces spreading depression of activity. In severely ischemic tissue, nonspreading depression of activity precedes spreading depolarization. The depression pattern determines the neurological deficit which is either spreading such as in migraine aura or migraine stroke or nonspreading such as in transient ischemic attack or typical stroke. Although a clinical distinction between spreading and nonspreading focal neurological deficits is useful because they are associated with different probabilities of permanent damage, it is important to note that spreading depolarization, the neuronal injury potential, occurs in all of these conditions. Here, we first review the scientific basis of the continuum of spreading depolarizations. Second, we highlight the transition zone of the continuum from reversibility to irreversibility using clinical cases of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. These illustrate how modern neuroimaging and neuromonitoring technologies increasingly bridge the gap between basic sciences and clinic. For example, we provide direct electrophysiological evidence for the first time that spreading depolarization-induced spreading depression is the pathophysiological correlate of the migraine aura.