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Endocrine. 2012 Aug;42(1):63-8. doi: 10.1007/s12020-012-9634-y. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

The evolutionary origin of the vasopressin/V2-type receptor/aquaporin axis and the urine-concentrating mechanism.

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Clinical R&D, Medical Science Urology, Ferring International Pharmascience Center, 11 Kay Fiskers Plads, 2300, Copenhagen S, Denmark.


In this mini-review, current evidence for how the vasopressin/V2-type receptor/aquaporin axis developed co-evolutionary as a crucial part of the urine-concentrating mechanism will be presented. The present-day human kidney, allowing the concentration of urine up to a maximal osmolality around 1200 mosmol kg(-1)-or urine to plasma osmolality ratio around 4-with essentially no sodium secreted is the result of up to 3 billion years evolution. Moving from aquatic to terrestrial habitats required profound changes in kidney morphology, most notable the loops of Henle modifying the kidneys from basically a water excretory system to a water conserving system. Vasopressin-like molecules has during the evolution played a significant role in body fluid homeostasis, more specifically, the osmolality of body liquids by controlling the elimination/reabsorption of fluid trough stimulating V2-type receptors to mobilize aquaporin water channels in the renal collector tubules. Recent evidence supports that all components of the vasopressin/V2-type receptor/aquaporin axis can be traced back to early precursors in evolutionary history. The potential clinical and pharmacological implications of a better phylogenetic understanding of these biological systems so essential for body fluid homeostasis relates to any pathological aspects of the urine-concentrating mechanism, in particular deficiencies of any part of the vasopressin-V2R-AQP2 axis causing central or nephrogenic diabetes insipidus-and for broader patient populations also in preventing and treating disturbances in human circadian regulation of urine volume and osmolality that may lead to enuresis and nocturia.

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