The Slc9 family of Na+/H+ exchangers (NHEs) plays a critical role in electroneutral exchange of Na+ and H+ in the mammalian intestine as well as other absorptive and secretory epithelia of digestive organs. These transport proteins contribute to the transepithelial Na+ and water absorption, intracellular pH and cellular volume regulation as well as the electrolyte, acid-base, and fluid volume homeostasis at the systemic level. They also influence the function of other membrane transport mechanisms, affect cellular proliferation and apoptosis as well as cell migration, adherence to the extracellular matrix, and tissue repair. Additionally, they modulate the extracellular milieu to facilitate other nutrient absorption and to regulate the intestinal microbial microenvironment. Na+/H+ exchange is inhibited in selected gastrointestinal diseases, either by intrinsic factors (e.g., bile acids, inflammatory mediators) or infectious agents and associated bacterial toxins. Disrupted NHE activity may contribute not only to local and systemic electrolyte imbalance but also to the disease severity via multiple mechanisms. In this review, we describe the cation proton antiporter superfamily of Na+/H+ exchangers with a particular emphasis on the eight SLC9A isoforms found in the digestive tract, followed by a more integrative description in their roles in each of the digestive organs. We discuss regulatory mechanisms that determine the function of Na+/H+ exchangers as pertinent to the digestive tract, their regulation in pathological states of the digestive organs, and reciprocally, the contribution of dysregulated Na+/H+ exchange to the disease pathogenesis and progression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)