Potassium channels in pancreatic duct epithelial cells: their role, function and pathophysiological relevance

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

8 Citations (Scopus)


Pancreatic ductal epithelial cells play a fundamental role in HCO3 secretion, a process which is essential for maintaining the integrity of the pancreas. Although several studies have implicated impaired HCO3 and fluid secretion as a triggering factor in the development of pancreatitis, the mechanism and regulation of HCO3 secretion is still not completely understood. To date, most studies on the ion transporters that orchestrate ductal HCO3 secretion have focussed on the role of Cl/HCO3 exchangers and Cl channels, whereas much less is known about the role of K+ channels. However, there is growing evidence that many types of K+ channels are present in ductal cells where they have an essential role in establishing and maintaining the electrochemical driving force for anion secretion. For this reason, strategies that increase K+ channel function may help to restore impaired HCO3 and fluid secretion, such as in pancreatitis, and therefore provide novel directions for future pancreatic therapy. In this review, our aims are to summarize the types of K+ channels found in pancreatic ductal cells and to discuss their individual roles in ductal HCO3 secretion. We will also describe how K+ channels are involved in pathophysiological conditions and discuss how they could act as new molecular targets for the development of therapeutic approaches to treat pancreatic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-640
Number of pages16
JournalPflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


  • HCO
  • K channels
  • Pancreatic ductal cells
  • Pancreatitis
  • Secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)

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