Aquaporin-4 and brain edema

Pediatr Nephrol. 2007 Jun;22(6):778-84. doi: 10.1007/s00467-006-0411-0. Epub 2007 Mar 9.


Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) is a water-channel protein expressed strongly in the brain, predominantly in astrocyte foot processes at the borders between the brain parenchyma and major fluid compartments, including cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood. This distribution suggests that AQP4 controls water fluxes into and out of the brain parenchyma. Experiments using AQP4-null mice provide strong evidence for AQP4 involvement in cerebral water balance. AQP4-null mice are protected from cellular (cytotoxic) brain edema produced by water intoxication, brain ischemia, or meningitis. However, AQP4 deletion aggravates vasogenic (fluid leak) brain edema produced by tumor, cortical freeze, intraparenchymal fluid infusion, or brain abscess. In cytotoxic edema, AQP4 deletion slows the rate of water entry into brain, whereas in vasogenic edema, AQP4 deletion reduces the rate of water outflow from brain parenchyma. AQP4 deletion also worsens obstructive hydrocephalus. Recently, AQP4 was also found to play a major role in processes unrelated to brain edema, including astrocyte migration and neuronal excitability. These findings suggest that modulation of AQP4 expression or function may be beneficial in several cerebral disorders, including hyponatremic brain edema, hydrocephalus, stroke, tumor, infection, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporin 4 / deficiency
  • Aquaporin 4 / genetics
  • Aquaporin 4 / metabolism*
  • Brain Edema / etiology
  • Brain Edema / metabolism*
  • Brain Edema / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / etiology
  • Hydrocephalus / metabolism
  • Hydrocephalus / pathology
  • Hyponatremia / complications
  • Hyponatremia / metabolism
  • Hyponatremia / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Water / metabolism
  • Water Intoxication / metabolism
  • Water Intoxication / pathology
  • Water Intoxication / physiopathology


  • AQP4 protein, human
  • Aqp4 protein, mouse
  • Aquaporin 4
  • Water