The physiological and pathophysiological functions of renal and extrarenal vasopressin V2 receptors

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2014 May 1;306(9):F931-40. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00604.2013. Epub 2014 Mar 5.


The arginine vasopressin (AVP) type 2 receptor (V2R) is unique among AVP receptor subtypes in signaling through cAMP. Its key function is in the kidneys, facilitating the urine concentrating mechanism through the AVP/V2 type receptor/aquaporin 2 system in the medullary and cortical collecting ducts. Recent clinical and research observations strongly support the existence of an extrarenal V2R. The clinical importance of the extrarenal V2R spans widely from stimulation of coagulation factor in the endothelium to as yet untested potential therapeutic targets. These include V2R-regulated membranous fluid turnover in the inner ear, V2R-regulated mitogensis and apoptosis in certain tumor tissues, and numerous other cell types where the physiological role of V2Rs still requires further research. Here, we review current evidence on the physiological and pathophysiological functions of renal and extrarenal V2Rs. These functions of V2R are important, not only in rare diseases with loss or gain of function of V2R but also in relation to the recent use of nonpeptide V2R antagonists to treat hyponatremia and possibly retard the growth of cysts and development of renal failure in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. The main functions of V2R in principal cells of the collecting duct are water, salt, and urea transport by modifying the trafficking of aquaporin 2, epithelial Na(+) channels, and urea transporters and vasodilation and stimulation of coagulation factor properties, mainly seen with pharmacological doses of 1-desamino-8-D-AVP. The AVPR2 gene is located on the X chromosome, in a region with high probability of escape from inactivation; this may lead to phenotypic sex differences, with females expressing higher levels of transcript than males.

Keywords: arginine vasopressin; arginine vasopressin V2 receptor; desmopressin; extrarenal vasopressin V2 receptor; vasopressin V2 receptor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidiuretic Hormone Receptor Antagonists
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genotype
  • Hormone Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Vasopressin / genetics
  • Receptors, Vasopressin / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects
  • Vasopressins / metabolism*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance*


  • Antidiuretic Hormone Receptor Antagonists
  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Receptors, Vasopressin
  • Vasopressins
  • Cyclic AMP