Potential contribution of epithelial Na+ channel to net secretion of aqueous humor

J Exp Zool. 1997 Dec 1;279(5):498-503. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-010x(19971201)279:5<498::aid-jez13>3.0.co;2-4.


The aqueous humor of the eye is secreted by the bilayered ciliary epithelium, consisting of the pigmented (PE) cell layer facing the stroma and the nonpigmented (NPE) cell layer facing the aqueous humor. Cells within each layer and between the two layers are linked by gap junctions, forming a ciliary epithelial syncytium. Unidirectional secretion from the stroma to the aqueous proceeds both through the cells (the transcellular pathway) and between the cells (the paracellular pathway). Net formation of aqueous humor must, however, be the algebraic sum of unidirectional secretion and unidirectional reabsorption from the aqueous humor back into the stoma. The mechanisms potentially underlying reabsorption of aqueous humor by the NPE cells have recently been addressed by studying the regulatory response (RVI) of anisosmotically shrunken NPE cells. The results indicated that epithelial Na+ channels with a high affinity to amiloride likely contribute to reabsorption of solute from the aqueous humor. We have substantiated this possibility by using Northern analysis to identify in human ciliary body RNA a 3.7-kb transcript corresponding to the alpha-subunit of the amiloride-sensitive, alpha beta gamma-ENaC epithelial sodium channel. We have also found that the Na(+)-channel inhibitor benzamil inhibits the RVI without affecting the cell volume of isotonic cell suspensions. This observation supports the hypothesis that the low conductance, highly selective epithelial Na+ channel is activated by shrinkage and contributes to unidirectional reabsorption as aqueous humor. Examples are provided of how the integrative regulation of aqueous humor formation can involve conjugate actions on both unidirectional secretion and reabsorption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amiloride / analogs & derivatives
  • Amiloride / pharmacology
  • Aqueous Humor / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Ciliary Body / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Sodium Channels / physiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance


  • Sodium Channels
  • benzamil
  • Amiloride