Role of nitric oxide in the regulation of nephron transport

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2002 May;282(5):F777-84. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00334.2001.


Nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in various physiological processes in the kidney. In vivo experiments first suggested that the natriuretic and diuretic effects caused by NO may be due to decreased NaCl and fluid absorption by the nephron. In the last 10 years, several reports have directly demonstrated a role for NO in modulating transport in different tubule segments. The effects of NO on proximal tubule transport are still controversial. Both stimulation and inhibition of net fluid and bicarbonate have been reported in this segment, whereas only inhibitory effects of NO have been found in Na/H exchanger and Na/K-ATPase activity. The effects of NO in the thick ascending limb are more homogeneous than in the proximal tubule. In this segment, NO decreases net Cl and bicarbonate absorption. A direct inhibitory effect of NO on the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter and the Na/H exchanger has been reported, while NO was found to stimulate apical K channels in this segment. In the collecting duct, NO inhibits Na absorption and vasopressin-stimulated osmotic water permeability. An inhibitory effect of NO on H-ATPase has also been reported in intercalated cells of the collecting duct. Overall, the reported effects of NO in the different nephron segments mostly agree with the natriuretic and diuretic effects observed in vivo. However, the net effect of NO on transport is still controversial in some segments, and in cases like the distal tubule, it has not been studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Diuresis
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules, Collecting / metabolism
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism
  • Loop of Henle / metabolism
  • Natriuresis
  • Nephrons / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*


  • Nitric Oxide