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Reassessing the role of astrocytes in ammonia neurotoxicity

High blood ammonia, as seen in severe liver disease and urea cycle disorders, is neurotoxic and difficult to treat. A new study shows that the toxic effects are caused by impaired astrocyte potassium buffering—not astrocyte swelling, as previously thought—and can be partially blocked by the diuretic bumetanide (pages 1643–1648).

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Figure 1: Uptake, metabolism and proposed toxic mechanism of ammonia in the CNS.


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Correspondence to Tore Eid.

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Eid, T., Lee, TS. Reassessing the role of astrocytes in ammonia neurotoxicity. Nat Med 19, 1572–1574 (2013).

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