Potassium transport in the mammalian collecting duct

Physiol Rev. 2001 Jan;81(1):85-116. doi: 10.1152/physrev.2001.81.1.85.


The mammalian collecting duct plays a dominant role in regulating K(+) excretion by the nephron. The collecting duct exhibits axial and intrasegmental cell heterogeneity and is composed of at least two cell types: collecting duct cells (principal cells) and intercalated cells. Under normal circumstances, the collecting duct cell in the cortical collecting duct secretes K(+), whereas under K(+) depletion, the intercalated cell reabsorbs K(+). Assessment of the electrochemical driving forces and of membrane conductances for transcellular and paracellular electrolyte movement, the characterization of several ATPases, patch-clamp investigation, and cloning of the K(+) channel have provided important insights into the role of pumps and channels in those tubule cells that regulate K(+) secretion and reabsorption. This review summarizes K(+) transport properties in the mammalian collecting duct. Special emphasis is given to the mechanisms of how K(+) transport is regulated in the collecting duct.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / physiology
  • Animals
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Ion Transport / drug effects
  • Ion Transport / physiology
  • Kidney Tubules, Collecting / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Collecting / metabolism*
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Mineralocorticoids / metabolism
  • Mineralocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels / classification
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying*
  • Vasopressins / metabolism
  • Vasopressins / pharmacology


  • Glucocorticoids
  • KCNJ1 protein, human
  • Mineralocorticoids
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Vasopressins
  • Potassium