Renal tubule albumin transport

Annu Rev Physiol. 2005;67:573-94. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.67.031103.154845.


Albumin is the most abundant protein in serum and contributes to the maintenance of oncotic pressure as well as to transport of hydrophobic molecules. Although albumin is a large anionic protein, it is not completely retained by the glomerular filtration barrier. In order to prevent proteinuria, albumin is reabsorbed along the proximal tubules by receptor-mediated endocytosis, which involves the binding proteins megalin and cubilin. Endocytosis depends on proper vesicle acidification. Disturbance of endosomal acidification or loss of the binding proteins leads to tubular proteinuria. Furthermore, endocytosis is subject to modulation by different signaling systems, such as protein kinase A (PKA), protein kinase C (PKC), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta). In addition to being reabsorbed in the proximal tubule, albumin can also act as a profibrotic and proinflammatory stimulus, thereby initiating or promoting tubulo-interstitial diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules / metabolism*
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism*


  • Serum Albumin