Na-coupled bicarbonate transporters of the solute carrier 4 family in the nervous system: function, localization, and relevance to neurologic function

Neuroscience. 2010 Dec 29;171(4):951-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.09.037. Epub 2010 Sep 25.


Many cellular processes including neuronal activity are sensitive to changes in intracellular and/or extracellular pH-both of which are regulated by acid-base transporter activity. HCO(3)(-)-dependent transporters are particularly potent regulators of intracellular pH in neurons and astrocytes, and also contribute to the composition of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The molecular physiology of HCO(3)(-) transporters has advanced considerably over the past ∼14 years as investigators have cloned and characterized the function and localization of many Na-Coupled Bicarbonate Transporters of the solute carrier 4 (Slc4) family (NCBTs). In this review, we provide an updated overview of the function and localization of NCBTs in the nervous system. Multiple NCBTs are expressed in neurons and astrocytes in various brain regions, as well as in epithelial cells of the choroid plexus. Characteristics of human patients with SLC4 gene mutations/deletions and results from recent studies on mice with Slc4 gene disruptions highlight the functional importance of NCBTs in neuronal activity, somatosensory function, and CSF production. Furthermore, energy-deficient states (e.g., hypoxia and ischemia) lead to altered expression and activity of NCBTs. Thus, recent studies expand our understanding of the role of NCBTs in regulating the pH and ionic composition of the nervous system that can modulate neuronal activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Ion Transport / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Sodium-Bicarbonate Symporters / deficiency
  • Sodium-Bicarbonate Symporters / physiology*


  • Sodium-Bicarbonate Symporters