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You are watching: Which of the following best describes the resting membrane potential (rmp)?

StatPearls . Sweetheart Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.


Physiology, resting Potential

Steven M. Chrysafides; Stephen Bordes; Sandeep Sharma.

Author Information


The resting membrane potential is the an outcome of the movement of several different ion types through various ion channels and also transporters (uniporters, cotransporters, and pumps) in the plasma membrane. This movements result in different electrostatic charges across the cabinet membrane. Neurons and also muscle cells are excitable such that these cell varieties can transition from a relaxing state to an excited state. The resting membrane potential that a cabinet is defined as the electrical potential difference throughout the plasma membrane as soon as the cabinet is in a non-excited state. Traditionally, the electric potential difference throughout a cabinet membrane is to express by the value inside the cell family member to the extracellular environment. <1><2>


There are a grasp of an important ions which contribute to the relaxing potential, through sodium (Na+) and also potassium (K+) providing a leading influence. Assorted negatively charged intracellular proteins and also organic phosphates that cannot cross the cabinet membrane are additionally contributory. Come understand just how the relaxing membrane potential gets generated and also why its value is negative, the is crucial to have actually an expertise of equilibrium potentials, permeability, and also ion pumps. <1>

The equilibrium potential is calculated utilizing the Nernst equation <3> <1>: 

Em = RT/zF * log(/).

Em= membrane equilibrium  potential

R = gas constant = 8.314472 J · K-1

T = temperature (Kelvin) 

F = Faraday"s constant = 9.65 x 104 C mol-1

Z will certainly be 1 for a monovalent ion such as K+, and 2 because that a divalent ion such as Ca2+ and so on. For this reason the equation is:

RT/F have the right to be simplified to 61.5 at typical body temperature.

There space two essential concepts main for the knowledge of any membrane potential:

The an initial is that the difference in the concentration gradient of one ion across a semipermeable membrane drives the direction of motion of the ion. This ionic concentration gradient, or difference across the membrane surface, is kept by the usage of energy, either main or second active transport, and also creates a pressure for the motion of the ion throughout the membrane. Again, since of the high relative permeability of the membrane come potassium, the resulting membrane potential is nearly always close come the potassium equilibrium potential. But in order for this process to occur, a concentration gradient of potassium ion must first be set up. This job-related is done by the Na+/K+ ATPase pump, i beg your pardon pumps 3 Na+ ion out that the cell and 2K+ right into the cabinet to create the Na+ and also K+ concentration gradient.

The second is the the membrane is semipermeable to the ion. There is one ion channel that enables for the ions to pass through the membrane only once that specific ion channel is open. Thus, once the ion channel opens, the ion moves under its concentration gradient from high to low, in this situation for K+ indigenous the inside (intracellular region) to the outside (extracellular region). Note: permeability is the capability of ion to flow throughout the membrane also if lock are relocating or not (e.g. Is over there an ion channel present). However, conductance measures the activity of charge across the membrane.

We have discussed the concentration gradient and also membrane permeability. Now, we talk about the electrostatic gradient formed. Confident and an adverse ions have tendency to pair with one one more in an ionic solution, as opposites attract. However, the activity of only the cation native the within of the cabinet to the exterior of the cell leaves behind a an adverse anion, and also thus the within of the cabinet becomes an ext negative, while the exterior of the cabinet becomes an ext positive. This generates an electrostatic gradient that builds up over time. 

Eventually, the negative charges inside the cell begin to exert a force to store the positively charged K+ ion inside the cell, a pressure that opposes the movement of the ions down the concentration gradient. When this negative electrostatic charge is opposite the force of the concentration gradient, over there is no movement of the ions. This case is called the equilibrium potential for that ion, i beg your pardon is calculate by the Nernst equation. Note: we need to stress that only a few ions have to move throughout the membrane to create the membrane potential, and also thus perform not significantly adjust the ion concentration gradient.

Since lot of ions add to the resting membrane potential, the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation, and not the Nernst equation,  is provided to calculation the membrane potential. <4> Since the ion v the best conductance across the membrane at remainder is potassium, the potassium equilibrium potential is the major contributor come the resting membrane potential. However since some sodium and also other ions leak out of the cabinet at rest, and so the resting membrane potential is a bit much more positive at -70 mV. <5>

Permeability refers to the capacity of ions to overcome the membrane and is directly proportional to the total number of open channels for a offered ion in the membrane. The membrane is permeable come K+ in ~ rest because many networks are open. In a normal cell, Na+ permeability is around 5% the the K+ permeability or also less, vice versa, the respective equilibrium potentials are +60 mV for sodium (ENa) and −90 mV because that potassium (EK). Thus, the membrane potential will certainly not be ideal at EK however rather depolarized (more hopeful value) from EKa. Thus, the cell"s relaxing potential will certainly be around −73 mV.

Organ equipment Involved

All cell within the body have a characteristic resting membrane potential relying on their cell type. Of main importance, however, space neurons and the three varieties of muscle cells: smooth, skeletal, and also cardiac. Hence, resting membrane potentials are crucial to the ideal functioning of the nervous and muscular systems.


Upon excitation, these cells deviate from their resting membrane potential to experience a rapid activity potential prior to coming returning to rest.

For neurons, the firing of an activity potential enables that cabinet to connect with various other cells via the relax of various neurotransmitters. In muscle cells, the generation that an action potential causes the muscle to contract.


For the vast majority of solutes, intracellular and also extracellular concentrations differ. As a result, over there is often a driving force for the motion of solutes throughout the plasma membrane. The direction that this control force requires two components: the concentration gradient and also the electric gradient. Regarding the concentration gradient, a solute will move from an area wherein it is much more concentrated come a separate area with a lower concentration. Regarding the electrical gradient, a fee solute will move from an area through a comparable charge in the direction of a separate area through an the contrary charge. All solutes are impacted by concentration gradients, but only charged solutes are influenced by electric gradients.

In the lack of other forces, a solute that deserve to cross a membrane will do so till it reaches equilibrium. For a non-charged solute, equilibrium will take ar when the concentration of that solute becomes equal on both political parties of the membrane. In this case, the concentration gradient is the only factor that produce a driving force for the activity of non-charged solutes. However, because that charged solutes, both the concentration and electrical gradients have to be taken right into account, together they both influence the steering force. A charged solute is said to have completed electrochemical equilibrium throughout the membrane when its concentration gradient is exactly equal and also opposite that of its electric gradient. It’s vital to keep in mind that when this occurs, that does not mean that the concentrations for the solute will certainly be the same on both political parties of the membrane. During electrochemical equilibrium for a fee solute, there is generally still a concentration gradient, however an electrical gradient oriented in opposing direction negates it. Under this conditions, the electric gradient for a offered charged solute serves as an electric potential difference across the membrane. The value of this potential difference represents the equilibrium potential for that charged solute. <6>

Under physiological conditions, the ions contributing come the resting membrane potential rarely reach electrochemical equilibrium. One reason for this is that many ions cannot easily cross the cell membrane because it is not permeable to many ions. For instance, Na+ is a positively charged ion that has actually an intracellular concentration of 14 mM, one extracellular concentration the 140 mM, and also an equilibrium potential worth of +65 mV. This difference way that when the within of the cell is 65 mV higher than the extracellular environment, Na+ will certainly be in electrochemical equilibrium across the plasma membrane. Moreover, K+ is a positively fee ion that has an intracellular concentration that 120 mM, one extracellular concentration that 4 mM, and an equilibrium potential the -90 mV; this method that K+ will be in electrochemical equilibrium when the cell is 90 mV lower than the extracellular environment. 

In the resting state, the plasma membrane has actually slight permeability to both Na+ and also K+. However, the permeability because that K+ is much greater due to the visibility of K+ leak networks embedded in the plasma membrane, which allow K+ to diffuse out of the cell down its electrochemical gradient. Due to the fact that of this intensified permeability, K+ is close to electrochemical equilibrium, and the membrane potential is close to the K+ equilibrium potential the -90 mV. The cell membrane in ~ rest has a really low permeability to Na+, which way Na+ is much from electrochemical equilibrium and the membrane potential is much from the Na+ equilibrium potential of +65 mV.<2>

The equilibrium potentials because that Na+ and K+ represent two extremes, with the cell’s resting membrane potential falling what in between. Due to the fact that the plasma membrane at rest has a much better permeability because that K+, the relaxing membrane potential (-70 to -80 mV) is much closer come the equilibrium potential the K+ (-90 mV) 보다 it is because that Na+ (+65 mV). This element brings up an important point: the an ext permeable the plasma membrane is come a given ion, the much more that ion will contribute to the membrane potential (the all at once membrane potential will certainly be closer to the equilibrium potential of that "dominate" ion).

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Na+ and K+ do not with electrochemical equilibrium. Even though a tiny amount of Na+ ion can go into the cell and K+ ions have the right to leave the cabinet via K+ leak channels, the Na+/K+ pump continually uses energy to maintain these gradients. <7> This pump plays a big role in maintaining the ionic concentration gradient by trading 3 Na+ ions from within the cell, because that every 2 K+ ions lugged into the cell. We should stress that while this pump does no make a far-reaching contribution come the charge of the membrane potential, that is crucial in keeping the ionic gradients that Na+ and K+ across the membrane. What generates the relaxing membrane potential is the K+ that leaks from the inside of the cell to the outside via leak K+ channels and generates a an adverse charge in the within of the membrane vs the outside. At rest, the membrane is impermeable to Na+, as every one of the Na+ networks are closed.