Molecular mechanisms of renal ammonia transport

Annu Rev Physiol. 2007;69:317-40. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.69.040705.142215.


Acid-base homeostasis to a great extent relies on renal ammonia metabolism. In the past several years, seminal studies have generated important new insights into the mechanisms of renal ammonia transport. In particular, the theory that ammonia transport occurs almost exclusively through nonionic NH(3) diffusion and NH(4)(+) trapping has given way to a model postulating that a variety of proteins specifically transport NH(3) and NH(4)(+) and that this transport is critical for normal ammonia metabolism. Many of these proteins transport primarily H(+) or K(+) but also transport NH(4)(+). Nonerythroid Rh glycoproteins transport ammonia and may represent critical facilitators of ammonia transport in the kidney. This review discusses the underlying aspects of renal ammonia transport as well as specific proteins with important roles in renal ammonia transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Ammonia