Effect of a Vasopressin V2 Receptor Antagonist on Polycystic Kidney Disease Development in a Rat Model

Am J Nephrol. 2019;49(6):487-493. doi: 10.1159/000500667. Epub 2019 May 22.


Background: Vasopressin V2 receptor inhibition is a clinically validated mechanism of action in the treatment of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). In this study, the effect of lixivaptan, a potent, selective vasopressin V2 antagonist, was evaluated in PCK rats, a validated animal model of PKD.

Methods: Four-week old PCK rats were fed rodent chow with 0.5% lixivaptan (low dose) or 1% lixivaptan (high dose), or chow only (control) for 8 weeks. Urine output was measured at weeks 7 and 10 of age. Animals were killed at 12 weeks of age; kidneys and livers were collected, weighted, and analyzed for cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP) levels and cystic burden and fibrosis; serum creatinine and sodium were measured.

Results: Consistent with the development of a polycystic kidney phenotype, control PCK rats showed enlarged kidneys, extensive cyst formation, and early signs of serum creatinine elevation at 12 weeks of age. Compared to controls, PCK rats treated with low-dose lixivaptan showed a 26% reduction in % kidney weight/body weight (p < 0.01); a 54% reduction in kidney cystic score (p < 0.001), a histomorphometric measure of cystic burden; a 23% reduction in kidney cAMP levels (p < 0.05), a biochemical marker of disease; and a 13% reduction in plasma creatinine (p < 0.001), indicating preserved renal function. These reductions were associated with 3-fold increases in 24-h urine output, demonstrating the potent aquaretic effect of lixivaptan. The fact that the high dose was less efficacious than the low dose is discussed.

Conclusions: These results provide the first evidence of the potential utility of lixivaptan for the treatment of ADPKD.

Keywords: Lixivaptan; PCK rat model; Polycystic kidney disease; Vasopressin V2 receptor antagonist.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Antidiuretic Hormone Receptor Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Benzamides / administration & dosage*
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Cysts / genetics
  • Cysts / pathology
  • Cysts / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / genetics
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Mutation
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant / complications
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant / genetics
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant / pathology
  • Pyrroles / administration & dosage*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Vasopressin / metabolism


  • Antidiuretic Hormone Receptor Antagonists
  • Avpr2 protein, rat
  • Benzamides
  • PKHD1 protein, rat
  • Pyrroles
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Vasopressin
  • lixivaptan
  • Creatinine

Supplementary concepts

  • Polycystic liver disease