Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Transient, Consequential Increases in Extracellular Potassium Ions Accompany Channelrhodopsin2 Excitation


Channelrhodopsin2 (ChR2) optogenetic excitation is widely used to study neurons, astrocytes, and circuits. Using complementary approaches in situ and in vivo, we found that ChR2 stimulation leads to significant transient elevation of extracellular potassium ions by ∼5 mM. Such elevations were detected in ChR2-expressing mice, following local in vivo expression of ChR2(H134R) with adeno-associated viruses (AAVs), in different brain areas and when ChR2 was expressed in neurons or astrocytes. In particular, ChR2-mediated excitation of striatal astrocytes was sufficient to increase medium spiny neuron (MSN) excitability and immediate early gene expression. The effects on MSN excitability were recapitulated in silico with a computational MSN model and detected in vivo as increased action potential firing in awake, behaving mice. We show that transient, physiologically consequential increases in extracellular potassium ions accompany ChR2 optogenetic excitation. This coincidental effect may be important to consider during astrocyte studies employing ChR2 to interrogate neural circuits and animal behavior.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View