Richard L. Hall rhall at
Wed Sep 20 12:28:54 EST 2000

Sure.  Ion diffusion carries electrical charge and current moves with 
the net diffusion of positive charges.  Ion channels are important 
because they regulate current flow in and out of a cell.  Ion 
channels are not needed for current spread throughout body fluids 
which is why a strong electrical shock can stop your heart.

Electricity in the body is generated by the net movement of ions 
between the intracellular and extracellular compartment.  Typically 
asymmetries in ionic distributions create gradients for ionic 
diffusion and current flow.  Muscle activity directly generates more 
current flow through the ecf than neural activity.  This is why it is 
easy to measure the electrocardiogram.  It is possible to measure 
cortical electroencephalograms but the magnitudes are smaller and the 
complexity greater.


>In reponse to a message already deleted...
>Can currents through ion channels be termed electric?  Why not?  I don't
>think electrons have to be involved do they?  What about the poor old
>electric fish with electric organs?  Isn't their "electricity" generated
>via ion channels?  Ionic current is more appropriate though, I must admit.
>Gary G Wilson
>Center for Molecular Recognition
>Columbia University

Richard L. Hall, Ph.D.
Comparative Animal Physiologist

University of the Virgin Islands
2 John Brewers Bay
St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 00802

340-693-1385 FAX

rhall at

"Live life on the edge...the view is always better"  rlh


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