Central mechanisms of osmosensation and systemic osmoregulation

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jul;9(7):519-31. doi: 10.1038/nrn2400. Epub 2008 May 29.


Systemic osmoregulation is a vital process whereby changes in plasma osmolality, detected by osmoreceptors, modulate ingestive behaviour, sympathetic outflow and renal function to stabilize the tonicity and volume of the extracellular fluid. Furthermore, changes in the central processing of osmosensory signals are likely to affect the hydro-mineral balance and other related aspects of homeostasis, including thermoregulation and cardiovascular balance. Surprisingly little is known about how the brain orchestrates these responses. Here, recent advances in our understanding of the molecular, cellular and network mechanisms that mediate the central control of osmotic homeostasis in mammals are reviewed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Extracellular Fluid / chemistry
  • Extracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Osmolar Concentration*
  • Osmotic Pressure*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Thirst / physiology
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology*


  • Ion Channels
  • Sodium