To better understand the role that water and urea fluxes play in the urine concentrating mechanism, we determined transepithelial osmotic water permeability (Pf) and urea permeability (Purea) in isolated perfused Munich-Wistar rat long-loop descending thin limbs (DTLs) and ascending thin limbs (ATLs). Thin limbs were isolated either from 0.5 to 2.5 mm below the outer medulla (upper inner medulla) or from the terminal 2.5 mm of the inner medulla. Segment types were characterized on the basis of structural features and gene expression levels of the water channel aquaporin 1, which was high in the upper DTL (DTLupper), absent in the lower DTL (DTLlower), and absent in ATLs, and the Cl-1 channel ClCK1, which was absent in DTLs and high in ATLs. DTLupper Pf was high (3,204.5 ± 450.3 μm/s), whereas DTLlower showed very little or no osmotic Pf (207.8 ± 241.3 μm/s). Munich-Wistar rat ATLs have previously been shown to exhibit no Pf. DTLupper Purea was 40.0 ± 7.3 × 10-5 cm/s and much higher in DTLlower (203.8 ± 30.3 × 10-5 cm/s), upper ATL (203.8 ± 35.7 × 10-5 cm/s), and lower ATL (265.1 ± 49.8 × 10-5 cm/s). Phloretin (0.25 mM) did not reduce DTLupper Purea, suggesting that Purea is not due to urea transporter UT-A2, which is expressed in short-loop DTLs and short portions of some inner medullary DTLs close to the outer medulla. In summary, Purea is similar in all segments having no osmotic Pf but is significantly lower in DTLupper, a segment having high osmotic Pf. These data are inconsistent with the passive mechanism as originally proposed.
- Epithelial transport
- Renal medulla
- Urea transporter-A
- Urine concentrating mechanism
ASJC Scopus subject areas