The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 209, Issue 1, pp 21–29 | Cite as

Volume-sensitive Chloride Channels Involved in Apoptotic Volume Decrease and Cell Death

  • Y. OkadaEmail author
  • T. Shimizu
  • E. Maeno
  • S. Tanabe
  • X. Wang
  • N. Takahashi


Apoptosis is an essential process in organ development, tissue homeostasis, somatic cell turnover, and the pathogenesis of degenerative diseases. Apoptotic cell death occurs in response to a variety of stimuli in physiological and pathological circumstances. Efflux of K+ and Cl leads to apoptotic volume decrease (AVD) of the cell. Both mitochondrion-mediated intrinsic, and death receptor-mediated extrinsic, apoptotic stimuli have been reported to rapidly activate Cl conductances in a large variety of cell types. In epithelial cells and cardiomyocytes, the AVD-inducing anion channel was recently determined to be the volume-sensitive outwardly rectifying (VSOR) Cl channel which is usually activated by swelling under non-apoptotic conditions. Blocking the VSOR Cl channel prevented cell death in not only epithelial and cardiac cells, but also other cell types, by inhibiting the induction of AVD and subsequent apoptotic events. Ischemia-reperfusion-induced apoptotic death in cardiomyocytes and brain neurons was also prevented by Cl channel blockers. Furthermore, cancer cell apoptosis induced by the anti-cancer drug cisplatin was recently found to be associated with augmented activity of the VSOR Cl channel and to be inhibited by a Cl channel blocker. The apoptosis-inducing VSOR Cl channel is distinct from ClC-3 and its molecular identity remains to be determined.


Anion channel VSOR Cl channel Apoptotic volume decrease Apoptosis Ischemia-reperfusion injury Anti-cancer drug 



The authors are grateful to E.L. Lee for reading the manuscript, to M. Ohara for technical assistance, and to T. Okayasu for secretarial assistance. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from MEXT of Japan and by a grant from the Salt Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Okada
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. Shimizu
    • 1
  • E. Maeno
    • 1
  • S. Tanabe
    • 1
  • X. Wang
    • 1
  • N. Takahashi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cell PhysiologyNational Institute for Physiological SciencesJapan

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