Introduction to sodium channels

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2014;221:1-6. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-41588-3_1.


Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) are present in many tissue types within the human body including both cardiac and neuronal tissues. Like other channels, VGSCs activate, deactivate, and inactivate in response to changes in membrane potential. VGSCs also have a similar structure to other channels: 24 transmembrane segments arranged into four domains that surround a central pore. The structure and electrical activity of these channels allows them to create and respond to electrical signals in the body. Because of their distribution throughout the body, VGSCs are implicated in a variety of diseases including epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmias, and neuropathic pain. As such the study of these channels is essential. This brief review will introduce sodium channel structure, physiology, and pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating*
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels / chemistry
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels / metabolism*


  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels
  • Sodium