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Channels (Austin). 2012 Nov-Dec;6(6):416-25. doi: 10.4161/chan.22340. Epub 2012 Oct 12.

Potassium channels in articular chondrocytes.

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  • 1Musculoskeletal Research Group, Division of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, The University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire, UK. ali.


Chondrocytes are the resident cells of cartilage, which synthesize and maintain the extracellular matrix. The range of known potassium channels expressed by these unique cells is continually increasing. Since chondrocytes are non-excitable, and do not need to be repolarized following action potentials, the function of potassium channels in these cells has, until recently, remained completely unknown. However, recent advances in both traditional physiology and "omic" technologies have enhanced our knowledge and understanding of the chondrocyte channelome. A large number of potassium channels have been identified and a number of putative, but credible, functions have been proposed. Members of each of the potassium channel sub-families (calcium activated, inward rectifier, voltage-gated and tandem pore) have all been identified. Mechanotransduction, cell volume regulation, apoptosis and chondrogenesis all appear to involve potassium channels. Since evidence suggests that potassium channel gene transcription is altered in osteoarthritis, future studies are needed that investigate potassium channels as potential cellular biomarkers and therapeutic targets for treatment of degenerative joint conditions.

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