Researchers make exciting discoveries in non-excitable cells

by Bill Hathaway

It has been 60 years since scientists discovered that sodium channels create the electrical impulses crucial to the function of nerve, brain, and heart cells—all of which are termed "excitable." Now researchers at Yale and elsewhere are discovering that sodium channels also play key roles in so-called non-excitable cells.

In the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Neuron, Yale neuroscientists Stephen Waxman and Joel Black review nearly a quarter-century of research that shows sodium channels in cells that do not transmit may nonetheless play a role in immune system function, migration of cells, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer.

"This insight has opened up new avenues of research in a variety of pathologies," Waxman said.

For instance, Waxman's lab has begun to study the functional role of voltage-gated sodium channels in non-excitable glial cells within the spinal cord and brain. They are currently investigating whether in these non-excitable cells may participate in the formation of glial scars, thereby inhibiting regeneration of nerve after traumatic injury to the spinal cord or brain.

More information: www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(13)00810-6

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scorpion venom -- bad for bugs, good for pesticides

Apr 27, 2011

Fables have long cast scorpions as bad-natured killers of hapless turtles that naively agree to ferry them across rivers. Michigan State University scientists, however, see them in a different light.

Recommended for you

Molecular basis of age-related memory loss explained

31 minutes ago

From telephone numbers to foreign vocabulary, our brains hold a seemingly endless supply of information. However, as we are getting older, our ability to learn and remember new things declines. A team of ...

The neurochemistry of addiction

1 hour ago

We've all heard the term "addictive personality," and many of us know individuals who are consistently more likely to take the extra drink or pill that puts them over the edge. But the specific balance of ...

Study examines blood markers, survival in patients with ALS

17 hours ago

The blood biomarkers serum albumin and creatinine appear to be associated with survival in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and may help define prognosis in patients after they are diagnosed with the fatal ...

User comments