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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2012 Apr 15;302(8):F943-56. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00504.2010. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

The epithelial sodium/proton exchanger, NHE3, is necessary for renal and intestinal calcium (re)absorption.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


Passive paracellular proximal tubular (PT) and intestinal calcium (Ca(2+)) fluxes have been linked to active sodium (re)absorption. Although the epithelial sodium/proton exchanger, NHE3, mediates apical sodium entry at both these sites, its role in Ca(2+) homeostasis remains unclear. We, therefore, set out to determine whether NHE3 is necessary for Ca(2+) (re)absorption from these epithelia by comparing Ca(2+) handling between wild-type and NHE3(-/-) mice. Serum Ca(2+) and plasma parathyroid hormone levels were not different between groups. However, NHE3(-/-) mice had increased serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3). The fractional excretion of Ca(2+) was also elevated in NHE3(-/-) mice. Paracellular Ca(2+) flux across confluent monolayers of a PT cell culture model was increased by an osmotic gradient equivalent to that generated by NHE3 across the PT in vivo and by overexpression of NHE3.( 45)Ca(2+) uptake after oral gavage and flux studies in Ussing chambers across duodenum of wild-type and NHE3(-/-) mice confirmed decreased Ca(2+) absorption in NHE3(-/-) mice compared with wild-type mice. Consistent with this, intestinal calbindin-D(9K), claudin-2, and claudin-15 mRNA expression was decreased. Microcomputed tomography analysis revealed a perturbation in bone mineralization. NHE3(-/-) mice had both decreased cortical bone mineral density and trabecular bone mass. Our results demonstrate significant alterations of Ca(2+) homeostasis in NHE3(-/-) mice and provide a molecular link between Na(+) and Ca(2+) (re)absorption.

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