Aquaporin 1 and the Na+/K+/2Cl- cotransporter 1 are present in the leptomeningeal vasculature of the adult rodent central nervous system

Fluids Barriers CNS. 2020 Feb 11;17(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s12987-020-0176-z.


Background: The classical view of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) production posits the choroid plexus as its major source. Although previous studies indicate that part of CSF production occurs in the subarachnoid space (SAS), the mechanisms underlying extra-choroidal CSF production remain elusive. We here investigated the distributions of aquaporin 1 (AQP1) and Na+/K+/2Cl- cotransporter 1 (NKCC1), key proteins for choroidal CSF production, in the adult rodent brain and spinal cord.

Methods: We have accessed AQP1 distribution in the intact brain using uDISCO tissue clearing technique and by Western blot. AQP1 and NKCC1 cellular localization were accessed by immunohistochemistry in brain and spinal cord obtained from adult rodents. Imaging was performed using light-sheet, confocal and bright field light microscopy.

Results: We determined that AQP1 is widely distributed in the leptomeningeal vasculature of the intact brain and that its glycosylated isoform is the most prominent in different brain regions. Moreover, AQP1 and NKCC1 show specific distributions in the smooth muscle cell layer of penetrating arterioles and veins in the brain and spinal cord, and in the endothelia of capillaries and venules, restricted to the SAS vasculature.

Conclusions: Our results shed light on the molecular framework that may underlie extra-choroidal CSF production and we propose that AQP1 and NKCC1 within the leptomeningeal vasculature, specifically at the capillary level, are poised to play a role in CSF production throughout the central nervous system.

Keywords: Aquaporin 1; Capillaries; Leptomeningeal vasculature; NKCC1; Penetrating arterioles; Subarachnoid space; Veins; Venules.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporin 1 / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Choroid Plexus / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Ion Transport / physiology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Rodentia / metabolism
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2 / metabolism*


  • Aqp1 protein, mouse
  • Slc12a2 protein, mouse
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2
  • Aquaporin 1