Expression and role of connexins in the rat renal vasculature

Kidney Int. 2008 Feb;73(4):415-22. doi: 10.1038/ Epub 2007 Nov 28.


Gap junctions are present in the juxtaglomerular apparatus enabling intercellular communication. Our study determined the location of different connexin subtypes within the juxtaglomerular apparatus of the rat, and the role of these subtypes in renal hemodynamics through the use of specific mimetic peptides. Immunohistochemical analysis showed connexins 37 and 40 expression in the endothelial and renin-secreting cells of the afferent arteriole, while connexin 40 was also found in extra- and intraglomerular mesangial cells. In contrast, connexin 43 was weakly expressed in endothelial cells of the afferent arteriole and within the glomerulus. Intra-renal infusion of the peptides (GAP) reported to block specific gap junctions ((Cx37,43)GAP27 or (Cx40)GAP27), elevated blood pressure, plasma renin activity, and angiotensin II levels, while decreasing renal plasma flow without a significant change in the glomerular filtration rate. Subsequent restoration of blood pressure reduced both renal plasma flow and glomerular filtration rate. In contrast, (Cx43)GAP26 reduced glomerular filtration rate without alterations in blood pressure, renal plasma flow, plasma renin activity, or angiotensin II levels. Hence, connexins 37 and 40 are expressed in the rat juxtaglomerular apparatus and these proteins control, in part, the renin-angiotensin system and renal autoregulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arterioles / chemistry
  • Arterioles / cytology
  • Arterioles / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure
  • Connexin 43 / analysis
  • Connexin 43 / metabolism*
  • Connexins / analysis
  • Connexins / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / chemistry
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Gap Junctions / chemistry
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Hemodynamics
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Juxtaglomerular Apparatus / chemistry
  • Juxtaglomerular Apparatus / metabolism*
  • Kidney / blood supply*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred WKY
  • Renin-Angiotensin System


  • Connexin 43
  • Connexins
  • connexin 37
  • connexin 40