The role of aquaporin 4 in the brain

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Abstract

Emerging evidence suggests that aquaporin (AQP) 4 water channels play an important role in water homeostasis in the brain. These water channels are most abundant in the cell membrane of astrocytes, but are also present within ependymal cell membranes and in osmosensory areas of the hypothalamus. Water transport through AQP4 depends on concentration gradients across the membrane, but the rate of transport is determined by the capacity of astrocytes to up- and down-regulate AQP4 numbers, their location within the membrane, and the overall permeability of the channel. Other functions of brain AQP4 involve potassium uptake and release by astrocytes, migration of glial cells, glial scarring, and astrocyte-to-astrocyte cell communication. AQP water channels are involved in formation and control of edema in the brain and in multiple disease processes in the brain, such as seizures and tumors. There is abundant scientific literature on AQP4 describing its structure, function, location, and role in water homeostasis and edema in the brain. Investigation of AQP expression in the canine and feline brain should be pursued so that clinically relevant comparisons between findings in mice, rats, and people and animal patients can be made.

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