Function of connexins in the renal circulation

Kidney Int. 2008 Mar;73(5):547-55. doi: 10.1038/ Epub 2007 Dec 12.


Connexins form intercellular channels that span two plasma membranes and directly couple the cytoplasm of adjacent cells. This morphological contact enables the exchange of ions, second messengers, and metabolites, which act to regulate several biological functions. This review focuses on the significance of connexins in the renal circulation. Cells of the renal vasculature are coupled and express connexins in a vessel and cell-specific pattern. This finding indicates that renal connexins likely play an important role in renal autoregulatory mechanisms (Bayliss effect, tubuloglomerular feedback) and in the control of vasomotor responses. The described coupling of endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells in the afferent arterioles may also contribute to the communication of neighboring nephrons, called 'nephron coupling.' Furthermore, deletion of the Cx40 and Cx43 genes results in an altered functional behavior of the renin-producing cells, suggesting involvement of these connexin isoforms in the regulation of renin secretion and synthesis. In addition, this review discusses the role of renal connexin expression in the pathogenesis of hypertension or diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Connexins / analysis
  • Connexins / chemistry
  • Connexins / metabolism*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Kidney / blood supply*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Nephrons / physiology
  • Renal Artery / chemistry
  • Renal Artery / metabolism*
  • Renal Circulation*
  • Renin / biosynthesis
  • Renin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factors / metabolism


  • Connexins
  • Transforming Growth Factors
  • Renin