Action potential: Ion channels

Basic, Physiology

Em = resting membrane potential of the cell, -90 mV. Maintained by the Na-K ATPase, which pumps K+ INTO the cell and Na+ OUT, as well as the Na-Ca exchanger, which pumps calcium OUT of the cell. Et = threshold potential, -65 mV Phase 0 = resting cell is brought to Et → rapid depolarization with rapid INFLUX of Na+ via activation of voltage-dependent sodium channels, as well as slower INFLUX of Ca2+ due to delayed opening of calcium channels Phase 1 = slow repolarization to membrane potential of 0 mV due to inactivation of voltage-dependent sodium channels (i.e. sodium influx stops) + transient EFFLUX of K+ Phase 2 = plateau followed by early repolarization. Slow INFLUX of Ca2+ electrically balances the EFFLUX of K+ Phase 3 = late repolarization via continued EFFLUX of K+. Ca2+ channels are closed Phase 4 = return to resting membrane potential via the Na-K ATPase and Na-Ca exchanger.


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Kathryn Kirkpatrick, MD