Membrane Potential

As previously mentioned, ammonium ions can be transported across cellular membranes via [Na,K]ATPase and [Na,K,Cl]-cotransporters. Ammonium ions compete with K+ ions and disturb the membrane potential. The [Na,K]ATPase transport system has a high energy demand (55,122,123), and the competition of ammonium ions with K+ ions decreases the efficiency Martinella and Hagstrom (116) reported futile cycles originating from ammonia diffusion and ammonium ion transport. These futile cycles increase the maintenance energy required by the cells. When ammonia is generated in the mitochondria, it diffuses out. However, ammonia is transported back in the form of ammonium ion, and cells use [Na,K]ATPase for this transfer. Thus, the alteration of membrane potential and elevation of maintenance energy are possible mechanisms for ammonia inhibition.

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