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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2012 Apr 1;302(7):C943-65. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00019.2012. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

ENaCs and ASICs as therapeutic targets.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


The epithelial Na(+) channel (ENaC) and acid-sensitive ion channel (ASIC) branches of the ENaC/degenerin superfamily of cation channels have drawn increasing attention as potential therapeutic targets in a variety of diseases and conditions. Originally thought to be solely expressed in fluid absorptive epithelia and in neurons, it has become apparent that members of this family exhibit nearly ubiquitous expression. Therapeutic opportunities range from hypertension, due to the role of ENaC in maintaining whole body salt and water homeostasis, to anxiety disorders and pain associated with ASIC activity. As a physiologist intrigued by the fundamental mechanics of salt and water transport, it was natural that Dale Benos, to whom this series of reviews is dedicated, should have been at the forefront of research into the amiloride-sensitive sodium channel. The cloning of ENaC and subsequently the ASIC channels has revealed a far wider role for this channel family than was previously imagined. In this review, we will discuss the known and potential roles of ENaC and ASIC subunits in the wide variety of pathologies in which these channels have been implicated. Some of these, such as the role of ENaC in Liddle's syndrome are well established, others less so; however, all are related in that the fundamental defect is due to inappropriate channel activity.

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