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IUBMB Life. 2014 Sep;66(9):596-615. doi: 10.1002/iub.1315. Epub 2014 Oct 1.

Bicarbonate transport in health and disease.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


Bicarbonate (HCO3(-)) has a central place in human physiology as the waste product of mitochondrial energy production and for its role in pH buffering throughout the body. Because bicarbonate is impermeable to membranes, bicarbonate transport proteins are necessary to enable control of bicarbonate levels across membranes. In humans, 14 bicarbonate transport proteins, members of the SLC4 and SLC26 families, function by differing transport mechanisms. In addition, some anion channels and ZIP metal transporters contribute to bicarbonate movement across membranes. Defective bicarbonate transport leads to diseases, including systemic acidosis, brain dysfunction, kidney stones, and hypertension. Altered expression levels of bicarbonate transporters in patients with breast, colon, and lung cancer suggest an important role of these transporters in cancer.


SLC26; SLC4; bicarbonate; bicarbonate transport; carbon dioxide; cell volume; pH regulation

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