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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 Nov;93(5):1852-9.

Invited review: biophysical properties of sodium channels in lung alveolar epithelial cells.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

Abstract

Amiloride-sensitive sodium channels in the lung play an important role in lung fluid balance. Particularly in the alveoli, sodium transport is closely regulated to maintain an appropriate fluid layer on the surface of the alveoli. Alveolar type II cells appear to play an important role in this sodium transport, with the role of alveolar type I cells being less clear. In alveolar type II cells, there are a variety of different amiloride-sensitive, sodium-permeable channels. This significant diversity appears to play a role in both normal lung physiology and in pathological states. In many epithelial tissues, amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) are formed from three subunit proteins, designated alpha-, beta-, and gamma-ENaC. At least part of the diversity of sodium-permeable channels in lung arises from the assembling of different combinations of these subunits to form channels with different biophysical properties and different mechanisms for regulation. This leads to epithelial tissue in the lung, which has enormous flexibility to alter the magnitude and regulation of salt and water transport. In this review, we discuss the biophysical properties and occurrence of these various channels and some of the mechanisms for their regulation.

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