Renal tubule transport of organic cations

Am J Physiol. 1981 Feb;240(2):F83-9. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.1981.240.2.F83.


Transcellular active tubular transport of organic cations occurs in the proximal renal tubule in the direction of excretion. These organic cations may be primary, secondary, tertiary, or quaternary amines. Endogenous neurohumors such as choline and catecholamines and drugs such as morphine and tetraethylammonium are representative transportable organic cations. Competitive inhibition for transport is found among organic cations. Organic anions, however, do not compete for this transport. Organic cations used as drugs may interact with the transport of endogenous organic cations to alter the excretion patterns of both. Bidirectional active tubule transport can be demonstrated for choline and is accompanied by simultaneous renal metabolism of choline. Studies using vesicles prepared from luminal and antiluminal membranes of renal cortex suggest that organic cation transport occurs in both vesicle preparations. However, only the luminal vesicles showed the characteristics of carrier-mediated uphill transport.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Cations / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Dogs
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism*
  • Morphine / metabolism
  • Niacinamide / metabolism
  • Quinine / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds / metabolism
  • p-Aminohippuric Acid / metabolism


  • Catecholamines
  • Cations
  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds
  • Niacinamide
  • Morphine
  • Quinine
  • Choline
  • p-Aminohippuric Acid