Regulation of Intestinal Glucose Absorption by Ion Channels and Transporters

Nutrients. 2016 Jan 14;8(1):43. doi: 10.3390/nu8010043.


The absorption of glucose is electrogenic in the small intestinal epithelium. The major route for the transport of dietary glucose from intestinal lumen into enterocytes is the Na⁺/glucose cotransporter (SGLT1), although glucose transporter type 2 (GLUT2) may also play a role. The membrane potential of small intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) is important to regulate the activity of SGLT1. The maintenance of membrane potential mainly depends on the activities of cation channels and transporters. While the importance of SGLT1 in glucose absorption has been systemically studied in detail, little is currently known about the regulation of SGLT1 activity by cation channels and transporters. A growing line of evidence suggests that cytosolic calcium ([Ca(2+)]cyt) can regulate the absorption of glucose by adjusting GLUT2 and SGLT1. Moreover, the absorption of glucose and homeostasis of Ca(2+) in IEC are regulated by cation channels and transporters, such as Ca(2+) channels, K⁺ channels, Na⁺/Ca(2+) exchangers, and Na⁺/H⁺ exchangers. In this review, we consider the involvement of these cation channels and transporters in the regulation of glucose uptake in the small intestine. Modulation of them may be a potential strategy for the management of obesity and diabetes.

Keywords: Ca2+ channels; K+ channels; Na+/Ca2+ exchanger; Na+/H+ exchanger; Na+/glucose cotransporter; glucose transporter type 2; glucose uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Enterocytes / metabolism
  • Glucose / pharmacokinetics*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2 / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism*
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Ion Transport
  • Mice
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 1 / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2
  • Ion Channels
  • Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 1
  • Glucose