Regulation of brain aquaporins

Neurochem Int. 2010 Nov;57(4):468-88. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2010.03.022. Epub 2010 Apr 7.


Three aquaporins are expressed in the brain. AQP4, the predominant brain water channel, is expressed in astrocyte endfeet facing brain capillaries, perisynaptic spaces, and nodes of Ranvier. It is implicated in brain edema formation and resolution. It is also believed to assist clearance of K(+) released during neuronal activity. AQP1 is expressed in epithelial cells of choroid plexus and is implicated in cerebrospinal fluid formation. AQP9, which has been reported to be present in astrocytes and in subpopulations of neurons, is implicated in the brain energy metabolism. All three brain AQPs are strongly upregulated in brain tumors and in injured brain tissue. Water and solute transport via AQPs depends on concentration gradients across the membrane, but the magnitude of the transport is to a large extent determined by the single channel permeability of AQPs and by their abundance in the cell membrane. The future therapies will have to address not only the forces driving the water and solute transport (e.g. as mannitol infusion does in the treatment of brain edema), but also the regulation of AQPs, which provide the means for water entry to the brain, for water exit from the brain, and for redistribution of water and solutes within the brain compartments. This review summarizes the data concerning structure, permeability, role in the brain, short-term and long-term regulation of the three AQPs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Aquaporin 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aquaporin 1 / biosynthesis
  • Aquaporin 1 / genetics
  • Aquaporin 1 / metabolism
  • Aquaporin 4 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aquaporin 4 / biosynthesis
  • Aquaporin 4 / genetics
  • Aquaporin 4 / metabolism
  • Aquaporins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aquaporins / biosynthesis
  • Aquaporins / genetics
  • Aquaporins / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • AQP9 protein, human
  • Aquaporin 4
  • Aquaporins
  • Aquaporin 1