Regulation of brain aquaporins

Neuroscience. 2004;129(4):947-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2004.08.022.


Emerging evidence suggests that brain aquaporins (AQP) play important roles for the dynamic regulation of brain water homeostasis and for the regulation of cerebrospinal fluid production. This review deals with the short- and long-term regulation of AQP4 and AQP9, both expressed in astrocytes, and of AQP1, expressed in the choroid plexus. AQP1 and 4 have in other cell types been shown to be regulated by phosphorylation. Phosphorylation affects the gating of AQP4 and the trafficking and insertion into membrane of AQP1. Mercury inhibits the water permeability of AQP1 and AQP9, but not AQP4. The permeability of AQP4 is increased by lead. AQP4 is also regulated by protein-protein interaction. The assembly between AQP4 and syntrophin is required for the proper localization of AQP4 in the astrocyte plasma membrane that faces capillaries. There is evidence from studies on peripheral tissues that steroid hormones regulate the expression of AQP1, AQP4 and AQP9. There is also evidence that the expression of AQP1 can be regulated by ubiquitination, and that osmolality can regulate the expression of AQP1, AQP4 and AQP9. Further insight into the mechanisms by which brain AQPs are regulated will be of utmost clinical importance, since perturbed water flow via brain AQPs has been implicated in many neurological diseases and since, in brain edema, water flow via AQP4 may have a harmful effect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporins / physiology*
  • Astrocytes / physiology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / cytology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / physiology*
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology*


  • Aquaporins
  • Hormones