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Annu Rev Physiol. 2005;67:377-409.

Mechanisms of bicarbonate secretion in the pancreatic duct.

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  • 1Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, United Kingdom.


In many species the pancreatic duct epithelium secretes HCO3- ions at a concentration of around 140 mM by a mechanism that is only partially understood. We know that HCO3- uptake at the basolateral membrane is achieved by Na+-HCO3- cotransport and also by a H+-ATPase and Na+/H+ exchanger operating together with carbonic anhydrase. At the apical membrane, the secretion of moderate concentrations of HCO3- can be explained by the parallel activity of a Cl-/HCO3- exchanger and a Cl- conductance, either the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) or a Ca2+-activated Cl- channel (CaCC). However, the sustained secretion of HCO3- into a HCO- -rich luminal fluid cannot be explained by conventional Cl-/HCO3- exchange. HCO3- efflux across the apical membrane is an electrogenic process that is facilitated by the depletion of intracellular Cl-, but it remains to be seen whether it is mediated predominantly by CFTR or by an electrogenic SLC26 anion exchanger.

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