|MadSci Network: Cell Biology|
Low [K+] & high [Na+] are commonly observed as ions forming a chemical gradient on either side of the cellular membranes of higher eukaryotes that establish the membrane potential. The membrane potential determines a cell's state of excitability or responsiveness to certain extracellular signalling events (e.g. nerve impulses). Typical skeletal muscle concentrations of Na+ are 145mM extracellular and 12mM intracellular; for K+, its 4mM extracellular and 155 mM intracellular (Hille, 1992 page 15). These precise ionic concentrations are maintained by Na+ and K+ fluxes through ion channels and pumps. This ioninc regulation leads to a resting membrane potential of -90 mV (in skeletal muscle). A more mathematical explaination between ionic gradients and membrane potentials is given by the Goldman equation (Hille, 1992, page 19)
Reference: Hille, B; Ionic Channels of Excitable Membranes, Sinauer Associates Inc.; Sunderland, Massachusetts; 1992
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