, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp 378-386

Why should a clinician care about the molecular biology of transport?

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This review outlines the progress made over the last few years in three chosen areas of intestinal ion transport. In the field of intestinal secretion, research on the secretion of bicarbonate by pancreatic ducts and duodenal epithelia in cystic fibrosis revealed the crucial role of chloride channel (CFTR) in the control of activity of other transporters involved in bicarbonate secretion. In the area of intestinal absorption, studies on the regulation and physiologic roles of epithelial Na+/H+ exchangers confirmed the suspected involvement of recycling in the acute regulation of NHE3 activity and resulted in formulation of new concepts for the roles of NHE3 and NHE2 in the gastrointestinal tract. Finally, the recent discovery of the first known viral enterotoxin revolutionized our understanding of pathomechanisms of secretory diarrhea during viral infections in humans. All of these findings are discussed in the context of their utility to the practicing gastroenterologist.