What role does the sodium-potassium pump perform in the body?

1 Answer
Sep 5, 2017

The sodium potassium pump (Na-K pump) is important for the functioning of most cellular processes.


The Na-K pump is a specialised transport protein found in the cell membrane. It is responsible for movement of potassium ions into the cells while simultaneously moving the sodium ions outside the cell. This is important for cell physiology. The sodium and potassium ions are pumped in opposite directions across the membrane, building up a chemical and electrical gradient for each. These gradients are used to drive other transport processes.

It has a particular significance for excitable cells such as nervous cells, which depend on this pump for responding to stimuli and transmitting impulses. Nerve impulses would be impossible without the aid of the Na-K pump.

This pump helps maintain the resting potential, effect transport and regulate cellular volume. It also functions as a signal transducer/ integrator to regulate MAPK pathway, as well as intracellular calcium.

In the kidneys the Na-K pump helps to maintain sodium and potassium balance in our body.

It also plays a key role in maintaining blood pressure and controls cardiac contractions.

Failure of the Na-K pump can result in the swelling of the cell.