Roles of glial ion transporters in brain diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


External Institution(s)

  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Shenyang Pharmaceutical University
  • Instituto Nacional de Investigacao Agraria e das Pescas
  • VA Medical Center


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-494
Number of pages23
Issue number3
StatusPublished - Mar 1 2020


Glial ion transporters are important in regulation of ionic homeostasis, cell volume, and cellular signal transduction under physiological conditions of the central nervous system (CNS). In response to acute or chronic brain injuries, these ion transporters can be activated and differentially regulate glial functions, which has subsequent impact on brain injury or tissue repair and functional recovery. In this review, we summarized the current knowledge about major glial ion transporters, including Na+/H+ exchangers (NHE), Na+/Ca2+ exchangers (NCX), Na+–K+–Cl cotransporters (NKCC), and Na+–HCO3 cotransporters (NBC). In acute neurological diseases, such as ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI), these ion transporters are rapidly activated and play significant roles in regulation of the intra- and extracellular pH, Na+, K+, and Ca2+ homeostasis, synaptic plasticity, and myelin formation. However, overstimulation of these ion transporters can contribute to glial apoptosis, demyelination, inflammation, and excitotoxicity. In chronic brain diseases, such as glioma, Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), and multiple sclerosis (MS), glial ion transporters are involved in the glioma Warburg effect, glial activation, neuroinflammation, and neuronal damages. These findings suggest that glial ion transporters are involved in tissue structural and functional restoration, or brain injury and neurological disease development and progression. A better understanding of these ion transporters in acute and chronic neurological diseases will provide insights for their potential as therapeutic targets.

    Research areas

  • Na/Ca exchanger, Na/H exchanger, Na–HCO cotransporter, Na–K–Cl cotransporter, brain diseases

Citation formats


Song, S., Luo, L., Sun, B., & Sun, D. (2020). Roles of glial ion transporters in brain diseases. Glia, 68(3), 472-494.


Song, S, Luo, L, Sun, B & Sun, D 2020, 'Roles of glial ion transporters in brain diseases', Glia, vol. 68, no. 3, pp. 472-494.