School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Mike Althaus

Lecturer in Animal Physiology


Area of expertise


Google Scholar


My research interest is the molecular physiology of epithelial ion channels and transport proteins in vertebrates. My work ranges from basic research on the function and regulation of epithelial ion channels and transporters in animals, up to translational aspects in Biomedicine and Pharmacology. I am combining electrophysiological techniques for the analysis of single ion channels, cells and epithelial tissues, with molecular biological/biochemical methods and optochemistry.

Molecular Ion Channel Physiology

I am currently investigating the molecular composition as well as functional regulation of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) in vertebrates. ENaCs are sodium selective ion channels which are found in various vertebrate epithelia (e.g. renal epithelia, respiratory epithelia or sweat glands) and are important for the control of salt and water homeostasis. I am investigating cellular signalling mechanisms regulating ENaC activity in epithelial cells and study how the molecular subunit composition of this ion channel determines its regulation and physiology. Furthermore, my collaborators and I are developing novel pharmacological tools in order to modulate the activity of this ion channel.

Selected Publications
Evans Blue is not a suitable inhibitor of the epithelial sodium channel δ-subunit.
Perniss A, Wolf A, Wichmann L, Schönberger M, Althaus M.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 466(3):468-74

Controlling epithelial sodium channels with light using photoswitchable amilorides.
Schönberger M, Althaus M, Fronius M, Clauss W, Trauner D.
Nat Chem. 2014; 6(8):712-9
Mechano-sensitivity of epithelial sodium channels (ENaCs): laminar shear stress increases ion channel open probability.
Althaus M, Bogdan R, Clauss WG, Fronius M.
FASEB J. 2007; (10):2389-99

Epithelial Ion Transport Physiology

In epithelial cells, the concerted action of ion channels and transporters controls the transport of electrolytes across the epithelium and thereby osmotically facilitates the absorption and secretion of liquid. In the lung, these transepithelial ion transport processes determine the volume and composition of a thin liquid layer lining the respiratory epithelium. A precise volume regulation of this liquid layer is critical for normal lung function. Dehydration of the epithelium in the airways impairs mucus clearance and can lead to chronic lung infection, whereas excess liquid in the distal lung can lead to the formation of pulmonary oedema and impaired gas exchange. I am investigating the cellular mechanisms which regulate ion transport processes in respiratory epithelia and how their malfunction contributes to the development of lung diseases.

Selected Publications
Hydrogen sulfide contributes to hypoxic inhibition of airway transepithelial sodium absorption.
Krause NC, Kutsche HS, Santangelo F, DeLeon ER, Dittrich NP, Olson KR, Althaus M.
Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2016; 311(3):R607-17
ENaC inhibitors and airway re-hydration in cystic fibrosis: state of the art.
Althaus M.
Curr Mol Pharmacol. 2013; 6(1):3-12
The gasotransmitter hydrogen sulphide decreases Na⁺ transport across pulmonary epithelial cells.
Althaus M, Urness KD, Clauss WG, Baines DL, Fronius M.
Br J Pharmacol. 2012; 166(6):1946-63


  • BIO1010 - Biology in Action
  • BIO2014 - Animal Physiology (Module Leader)
  • BIO3037 - Current Zoology (Module Leader)
  • BIO3032 - Cellular Systems 
  • BIO3197 - Biological Literature Review
  • BIO3198 - Biological Information Project
  • BIO3199 - Biological Research Project