Renal transport of organic anions and cations

Compr Physiol. 2011 Oct;1(4):1795-835. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c100084.


Organic anions and cations (OAs and OCs, respectively) comprise an extraordinarily diverse array of compounds of physiological, pharmacological, and toxicological importance. The kidney, primarily the renal proximal tubule, plays a critical role in regulating the plasma concentrations of these organic electrolytes and in clearing the body of potentially toxic xenobiotics agents, a process that involves active, transepithelial secretion. This transepithelial transport involves separate entry and exit steps at the basolateral and luminal aspects of renal tubular cells. Basolateral and luminal OA and OC transport reflects the concerted activity of a suite of separate proteins arranged in parallel in each pole of proximal tubule cells. The cloning of multiple members of several distinct transport families, the subsequent characterization of their activity, and their subcellular localization within distinct regions of the kidney, now allows the development of models describing the molecular basis of the renal secretion of OAs and OCs. New information on naturally occurring genetic variation of many of these processes provides insight into the basis of observed variability of drug efficacy and unwanted drug-drug interactions in human populations. The present review examines recent work on these issues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anions / metabolism
  • Cations / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Organic Anion Transporters / chemistry
  • Organic Anion Transporters / genetics
  • Organic Anion Transporters / metabolism*
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Renal Tubular Transport, Inborn Errors / genetics


  • Anions
  • Cations
  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins