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Kidney Int. 2001 Jan;59(1):62-8.

Furosemide stimulates macula densa cyclooxygenase-2 expression in rats.

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Institut für Physiologie, Universität Regensburg; Nephrologie, Medizinische Klinik IV, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.



During a low salt intake, maintenance of renal blood flow and renin secretion depends on intact formation of prostaglandins. In the juxtaglomerular apparatus, the inducible isoform of cyclooxygenase, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), is restricted to the macula densa and the cortical thick ascending limb of Henle (cTALH) cells, and is inversely regulated by dietary salt intake. This study aimed to elucidate whether the effect of NaCl on macula densa COX-2 expression is mediated by transepithelial transport of NaCl.


To this end, male Sprague-Dawley rats received subcutaneous infusions of the loop diuretic furosemide (12 mg/day) or were fed with the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide (30 mg/kg day) for seven days each. To compensate for their salt and water loss, the animals had free access to normal water and to salt water (0.9% NaCl, 0.1% KCl). COX-2 expression in kidney cortex was assessed by immunohistochemical staining and by semiquantitative ribonuclease protection assay for COX-2 mRNA.


After six days of furosemide infusion to salt-substituted rats, there was no change of extracellular volume. Furosemide led to a fivefold and threefold increase of plasma renin activity and renocortical renin mRNA level, respectively. In parallel, there was a threefold increase of renocortical COX-2 abundance, while the COX-1 mRNA level remained unchanged. Moreover, the percentage of juxtaglomerular apparatuses immunopositive for COX-2 increased threefold in response to furosemide compared with vehicle-infused animals. Hydrochlorothiazide treatment increased plasma renin activity twofold but did not change kidney cortical renin mRNA, COX-2 mRNA, or COX-2 immunoreactivity.


Our findings suggest that inhibition of salt transport in the loop of Henle, but not in the distal tubule, causes a selective stimulation of COX-2 expression in the macula densa region. This up-regulation may be of relevance for macula densa signaling, which links tubular salt transport rate with glomerular filtration rate and renin secretion.

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