All cells contain ion channels in their outer (plasma) and inner (organelle) membranes. Ion channels, similar to other proteins, are targets of oxidative impact, which modulates ion fluxes across membranes. Subsequently, these ion currents affect electrical excitability, such as action potential discharge (in neurons, muscle, and receptor cells), alteration of the membrane resting potential, synaptic transmission, hormone secretion, muscle contraction or coordination of the cell cycle. In this chapter we summarize effects of oxidative stress and redox mechanisms on some ion channels, in particular on maxi calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels which play an outstanding role in a plethora of physiological and pathophysiological functions in almost all cells and tissues. We first elaborate on some general features of ion channel structure and function and then summarize effects of oxidative alterations of ion channels and their functional consequences.
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