The role of sodium channels

27th Nov 2018

Brain and Neuroscience Advances HeaderVoltage gated sodium channels are crucial in signalling in the brain and the nervous system, but what do they actually do?

This review by Wood and Iseppon (2018) in the BNA’s journal ‘Brain and Neuroscience Advances’, summarizes the past and present findings in sodium channel research in great detail.

Sodium channel research started in the 18th century with the concept of animal electricity with Galvani demonstrating that a frog leg would twitch if electrically charged metal touched it. His cousin then used this knowledge on a human corpse that opened an eye after stimulation.

But a lot has changed since then. More recent research in the 20th century led to the discovery of the different subtypes (NaV1.1 – NaV1.9) and subunits of sodium channels by discovery of the DNA sequence that codes for them. Mutations have then been linked with epilepsy, especially in the NaV1.1 subtype. The amount of change of this channel is linked with the difference in effectiveness of anti-epilepsy drugs.

Sodium channels are also crucial for muscle contraction, in particular NAV1.4. Mutations in this subtype are linked to various muscular disorders causing paralysis. In the heart, mutations of NaV1.5 have been linked to sudden cardiac death. Finally, NaV1.7- NaV1.9 are involved in pain.

This article shows the many roles sodium channels play in our body and how important they are by highlighting what happens if these channel subtypes are mutated.

To access the full review article, click here

Wood, J.N. and Iseppon, F., 2018. Sodium channels. Brain and Neuroscience Advances, 2

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