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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2001 Mar;24(3):224-34.

Expression and localization of epithelial aquaporins in the adult human lung.

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Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Clinical Treatment Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7248, USA.


Aquaporins (AQPs) facilitate water transport across epithelia and play an important role in normal physiology and disease in the human airways. We used in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence to determine the expression and cellular localization of AQPs 5, 4, and 3 in human airway sections. In nose and bronchial epithelia, AQP5 is expressed at the apical membrane of columnar cells of the superficial epithelium and submucosal gland acinar cells. AQP4 was detected in basolateral membranes in ciliated ducts and by in situ in gland acinar cells. AQP3 is present on basal cells of both superficial epithelium and gland acinus. In these regions AQPs 5, 4, and 3 are appropriately situated to permit transepithelial water permeability. In the small airways (proximal and terminal bronchioles) AQP3 distribution shifts from basal cell to surface expression (i.e., localized to the apical membrane of proximal and terminal bronchioles) and is the only AQP identified in this region of the human lung. The alveolar epithelium has all three AQPs represented, with AQP5 and AQP4 localized to type I pneumocytes and AQP3 to type II cells. This study describes an intricate network of AQP expression that mediates water transport across the human airway epithelium.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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