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J Integr Neurosci. 2017;16(1):33-55. doi: 10.3233/JIN-160002.

A model of ion transport processes along and across the neuronal membrane.

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Department of Engineering Physics, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.


In this study, we provide a foundational model of ion transport processes in the intracellular and extracellular compartments of neurons at the nanoscale. There are two different kinds of ionic transport processes: (i) ionic transport across the neuronal membrane (trans-membrane), and (ii) ionic transport along both the intracellular and extracellular surfaces of the membrane. Brownian dynamics simulations are used to give a description of ionic trans-membrane transport. Electro-diffusion is used to model ion transport along the membrane surface, and the two transport processes can be linked analytically. In our model, we found that the interactions between ions and ion channels result in high-frequency ionic oscillations during trans-membrane transport. In ion transport along the membrane, high-frequency ionic oscillations may be evoked on both the intracellular and extracellular surfaces of the plasma membrane. The electric field caused by Coulomb interactions between the ions is found to be the most likely origin of those ionic oscillations.


Brownian dynamics; Ion transport; dipole; electric field; electro-diffusion; extracellular space; ion oscillations; neuronal membrane

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