ATP and adenosine in the local regulation of water transport and homeostasis by the kidney

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Feb;296(2):R419-27. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.90784.2008. Epub 2008 Nov 19.


Regulation of body water homeostasis is critically dependent on the kidney and under the control of AVP, which is released from the neurohypophysis. In the collecting duct (CD) of the kidney, AVP activates adenylyl cyclase via vasopressin V2 receptors. cAMP-dependent activation of protein kinase A phosphorylates the water channel aquaporin-2 and increases water permeability by insertion of aquaporin-2 into the apical cell membrane. However, local factors modulate the effects of AVP to fine tune its effects, accelerate responses, and potentially protect the integrity of CD cells. Nucleotides like ATP belong to these local factors and act in an autocrine and paracrine way to activate P2Y2 receptors on CD cells. Extracellular breakdown of ATP and cAMP forms adenosine, the latter also induces specific effects on the CD by activation of adenosine A1 receptors. Activation of both receptor types can inhibit the cAMP-triggered activation of protein kinase A and reduce water permeability and transport. This review focuses on the role and potential interactions of the ATP and adenosine system with regard to the regulation of water transport in the CD. We address the potential stimuli and mechanisms involved in nucleotide release and adenosine formation, and discuss the corresponding signaling cascades that are activated. Potential interactions between the ATP and adenosine system, as well as other factors involved in the regulation of CD function, are outlined. Data from pharmacological studies and gene-targeted mouse models are presented to demonstrate the in vivo relevance to water transport and homeostasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / metabolism*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / metabolism
  • Cell Size
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules, Collecting / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Purinergic P1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction* / genetics
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance* / genetics


  • Receptors, Purinergic P1
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2
  • Arginine Vasopressin
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Adenosine