noun, plural: ionophores

(1) Any molecule or compounds that is lipid-soluble yet allows ions to bind to, shield, and help move across the lipid membrane

(2) Any of the group of compounds that form a hydrophilic channel for ions to pass through and thereby help prevent exposing the ions to the hydrophobic interior of a lipid membrane


Ionophores occur naturally and synthetically. They are produced synthetically as a drug that improves the permeability of the cell membranes to particular ions. They may be a mobile ion carrier or a channel former to facilitate ion transport across the lipid bilayer.


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