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Semin Nephrol. 1993 Mar;13(2):146-54.

Urea transport in the kidney.

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Department of Renal Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia.


Urea transport within the kidney is regulated and varies dramatically between different nephron segments. The terminal IMCD displays very high rates of transepithelial urea transport enabling delivery of large amounts of urea into the deepest portions of the inner medulla to maintain a high interstitial osmolality for concentrating the urine maximally. Urea in the terminal IMCD is transported by a specific urea transporter that is stimulated by vasopressin and hyperosmolarity. Although the urea transporter has not been cloned, individuals have been identified who lack the urea transporter. Individuals who lacked the Kidd antigen (a minor blood group antigen) also lacked carrier-mediated urea transport in their erythrocytes (and presumably in their kidneys). These same subjects were unable to concentrate their urine above 800 mOsm following overnight water deprivation. This experiment of nature illustrates the critical importance of the urea transporter to concentrating ability in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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