Colonic epithelial cells are responsible for maintaining a delicate balance between luminal secretion and the absorption of fluids and ions. This review aims to discuss and update the model of colonic electrolyte secretion and absorption via the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR), epithelial sodium channel (ENaC), Na-K-Cl cotransporters (NKCC1 and 2), Na-H exchangers (NHE1–4), colonic H,KATPase, and several other key components involved in multi-level transepithelial ion transport. Developments in our understanding of the activity, regulation, localization, and relationships of these ion transporters and their interactions have helped forge a more robust understanding of colonic ion movement that accounts for the colonic epithelium’s role in mucosal pH modulation, the setting of osmotic gradients pivotal for fluid retention and secretion, and cell death regulation. Deviations from homeostatic ion transport cause diarrhea, constipation, and epithelial cell death and contribute to cystic fibrosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and cancer pathologies. Signal transduction pathways that regulate electrolyte movement and the regulatory relationships between various sensors and transporters (CFTR as a target of CaSR regulation and as a regulator of ENaC and DRA, for example) are imperative aspects of a dynamic and comprehensive model of colonic ion homeostasis.
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