Current perspectives on acid-sensing ion channels: new advances and therapeutic implications

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2010 May;3(3):331-46. doi: 10.1586/ecp.10.13.


Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) form a family of voltage-independent cation channels that predominantly conduct Na+ ions, and were identified at the molecular level a little more than a decade ago. ASICs are activated by extracellular acidification within the physiological range, and they form effective proton sensors in both central and peripheral sensory neurons. A combination of genetic and pharmacologic approaches has revealed their implication in an increasing number of physiological and pathophysiological processes--most of them associated with extracellular pH fluctuations, ranging from synaptic plasticity, learning, memory, fear, depression, seizure termination and neuronal degeneration to nociception and mechanosensation. ASICs, therefore, emerge as new potential therapeutic targets in the management of psychiatric disorders, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases and pain.