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The present study shows that anoxic neuronal depolarization or NMDA receptor activation are potent stimuli for inducing spinal neuronal heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). Spinal hyperthermia, despite its significant glutamate releasing effect, induced only glial Hsp70 upregulation. No significant increase in spinal Hsp70 expression after potassium depolarization was seen.Transient spinal ischemia (6 min) was induced by the inflation of a 2F Fogarty catheter placed into descending thoracic aorta during concurrent hypotension (40 mmHg). To determine the onset of anoxic depolarization extracellular concentration of K+ was measured in the lumbar dorsal horn using a microelectrode. Spinal hyperthermia (42 °C) or hypothermia (27 °C) was induced using a heat exchanger placed in the paravertebral subcutaneous space overlying Th5-S4 spinal segments. To measure extracellular concentration of glutamate during hyperthermia a loop dialysis catheter was implanted into lumbar intrathecal space. Receptor specific (NMDA, 3 μg) or non-specific (KCl, 10 μl, 1 M) neuronal depolarization was induced using previously implanted intrathecal catheters. After ischemia, temperature manipulations or drug injections animals survived for 4 or 24 h. Animals were then terminally anesthetized and perfusion fixed for Hsp70 immunohistochemistry.After spinal ischemia or NMDA administration a neuronal Hsp70 expression was seen at 24 h. After spinal hyperthermia only glial expression was seen at 4 h. Hyperthermia significantly increased CSF glutamate concentration, however, MK-801 (a non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist) pretreatment failed to block Hsp70 expression. After hypothermia or potassium depolarization only minimal or no Hsp70 expression was seen in glial cells.Exposure of neuronal tissue to a specific stimuli may lead to intervals of increased resistance to subsequent neurotoxic/ischemic insult. The intervening biochemistry of this protection has been attributed to a family of molecules referred to as HSP. In the present study, we demonstrate that short-lasting anoxic depolarization or activation of NMDA receptor are the most potent stimuli for spinal neuronal Hsp70 induction. This effect corresponds with the observed ischemic tolerance state induced by short-lasting preconditioning spinal ischemia.