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279: Why can the sodium-potassium pump work backwards?

Masterjohn Q&A Files Episode 279

Introduction

Short answer: The second law of thermodynamics means that concentrations of specific chemicals or positive or negative charges will always "want" to disperse and randomly mix in their environment, making concentrations of ions such as sodium or potassium a form of potential energy. While the pump normally uses energy from ATP to invest into creating those concentrations, if ATP levels are low and sodium and potassium are already highly concentrated on opposite sides of the cell membrane, their potential energy can be released by mixing across the membrane, and can be used to synthesize ATP.

This episode was cut from the original Q&A session that you can find here.

DISCLAIMER: I have a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and my expertise is in performing and evaluating nutritional research. I am not a medical doctor and nothing herein is medical advice.

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The Masterjohn Q&A Files
We use Zoom, a video chatting software, in webinar mode. You can ask your question anonymously in text, but you can also ask it publicly, and you can even get "on stage" and share your mic, web cam, or screen with everyone.
Authors
Chris Masterjohn, PhD