Low-voltage-activated T-type Ca²⁺ channels contribute to a wide variety of physiological functions, most predominantly in the nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. Studies have documented the roles of T-type channels in sleep, neuropathic pain, absence epilepsy, cell proliferation and cardiovascular function. Importantly, novel aspects of the modulation of T-type channels have been identified over the last few years, providing new insights into their physiological and pathophysiological roles. Although there is substantial literature regarding modulation of native T-type channels, the underlying molecular mechanisms have only recently begun to be addressed. This review focuses on recent evidence that the Ca(v)3 subunits of T-type channels, Ca(v)3.1, Ca(v)3.2 and Ca(v)3.3, are differentially modulated by a multitude of endogenous ligands including anandamide, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, endostatin, and redox and oxidizing agents. The review also provides an overview of recent knowledge gained concerning downstream pathways involving G-protein-coupled receptors. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Calcium channels.
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