Organic anion transporters play an important role in the uptake of p-cresyl sulfate, a uremic toxin, in the kidney

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2011 Aug;26(8):2498-502. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfq785. Epub 2011 Feb 8.


Background: p-Cresyl sulfate (PCS), a recently identified anionic uremic toxin, is the main circulating metabolite of p-cresol. In cases of chronic kidney disease (CKD), it might be associated with cardiovascular outcomes and the progression of CKD. However, the renal excretion pathway of PCS is currently unknown. The objective of the present study was to determine whether organic anion transporters (OATs), which are renal tubular basolateral membrane transporters, play an important role in this process.

Methods: The uptake of PCS was investigated using rat renal cortical slices and human proximal tubular cells (HK-2). The active uptake velocity was calculated by subtracting the uptake velocity at 4°C (nonspecific uptake) from that at 37°C.

Results: As evidenced by renal cortical slice experiments, the uptake of PCS was saturable with a mean K(m) of 231.6 μM, indicating that the active transport is involved in the basolateral uptake of PCS. Similar results were also observed in HK-2 cells. The active transport of PCS was significantly suppressed by inhibitors of OATs, such as probenecid, benzylpenicillin, p-aminohippuric acid and estrone sulfate. Similar inhibitions were observed in the presence of indoxyl sulfate and 3-carboxy-4-methyl-5-propyl-2-furanpropionate, OATs substrates among uremic toxins. In contrast, digoxin and tetraethylammonium that did not interact with OATs had little inhibitory effect.

Conclusions: The findings of the present study strongly suggest that PCS serves as a substrate for OATs, is preferentially recognized by OAT3 and plays a key role in the renal tubular secretion process.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cresols / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Cortex / cytology
  • Kidney Cortex / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / cytology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Organic Anion Transporters / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters / metabolism*
  • Toxins, Biological / metabolism*


  • Cresols
  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters
  • Toxins, Biological
  • 4-cresol sulfate