Membrane Effects of Neurotoxic Chemicals

  • Joep van den Bercken
Conference paper
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 100)


The most characteristic feature of the nerve membrane is its electrical excitability. The basis for excitation lies in the ionic concentration gradients across the membrane (low sodium and high potassium at the inside, high sodium and low potassium at the outside), in combination with the selective permeability characteristics of the membrane for these ions. The ion gradients which are maintained by the sodium/potassium pump, result in an electrical polarization of the nerve membrane; the potential at the inside being negative by 60–80 mV with respect to the outside. A nervous impulse is brought about by a rapid, transient increase in the permeability of the membrane for sodium, resulting in an inward sodium current, followed by an increase in the potassium permeability, resulting in an outward potassium current. As a result, the membrane potential temporarily reverses sign and an action potential is conducted along the nerve fibre.


Sodium Channel Potassium Channel Pyrethroid Insecticide Excitable Membrane Scorpion Toxin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adelman W.J. Jr. ed., 1971, “Biophysics and physiology of excitable membranes,” Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong C.M., 1975, Ionic pores, gates and gating currents, Q. Rev. Biophys., 7: 179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cahalan M., 1980, Molecular properties of sodium channels in excitable membranes, in, “The cell surface and neuronal function,” C.W. Cotman et al. eds., Elsevier/North-Holland Biomedical Press, Amsterdam, p. 1.Google Scholar
  4. Carbone E., Wanke E., Prestipino G., Possani L.D. and Maelicke A., 1982, Selective blockage of voltage-dependent potassium channels by a novel scorpion toxin, Nature, 296: 90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Catterall W.A., 1980, Neurotoxins that act on voltage-sensitive sodium channels in excitable membranes, Ann. Rev. Pharmaco1. Toxicol., 20: 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hille B., 1984, “Ionic channels of excitable membranes,” Sinauer Associates Inc., Sunderland, Mass., U.S.A.Google Scholar
  7. Hodgkin A.L. and Huxley A.F., 1952, A quantitative description of membrane currents and its application to conduction and excitation in nerve, J. Physiol., 117: 500.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Kuffler S.W. and Nicholls J.G., 1984, “From neuron to brain,” Sinauer Associates Inc., Sunderland, Mass., U.S.A.Google Scholar
  9. Lazdunski M., Baierna M., Barhanin J., Chicheportiche M., Fosset M., Frelin C., Jacques Y., Pouyssegur J., Renaud J.F., Romey G., Schweitz H. and Vincent J.P., 1980, Molecular aspects of the structure and mechanism of the voltage-dependent sodium channel, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 358: 169.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Narahashi T., 1974, Chemicals as tools in the study of ecitable membranes, Physiol. Rev., 54: 813.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Noda M. et al., 1984, Primary structure of Electrophorus electricus sodium channel deduced from cDNA sequence, Nature, 312: 121.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Sakman B. and Neher E. eds., 1983, “Single channel recording,” Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Vijverberg H.P.M. and van den Bercken J., 1982, Action of pyrethroid insecticides on the vertebrate nervous system, Neuropathol. Appi. Neurobiol., 8: 421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joep van den Bercken
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Pharmacology, Pharmacy and ToxicologyUniversity of UtrechtTD UtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations