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Biomedical Reviews

Water channel proteins of adipocytes

Gheorghe Benga


After the first water channel protein was discovered in the red blood cell membrane in 1985, more than 200 water channel proteins have been identified in all living organisms. In mammalians there are 13 members of the water channel protein family, with two groups of members: aquaporins, which are considered as specific water channels, and aquaglyceroporins, which are permeable to water (however to varying degrees), but are also permeated by other small molecules, in particular glycerol. Adipocytes express aquaporin 1 (AQP1) and aquaglyceroporin (AQP7). Aquaporin 1 is abundant in adipocytes but its functional significance is not yet precisely known. Aquaporin 7 may prevent the acute rise in intracellular osmotic pressure due to glycerol production during lipolysis, which could damage the cell. Dysregulation of AQP7 is increasingly implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity. This is supported by studies on cultured adipocytes and on animals in which AQP7 was knocked down. Such studies are briefly reviewed, and adipopharmacology of AQP7 in obesity is outlined.

Biomedical Reviews 2006; 17: 105-110.

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About The Author

Gheorghe Benga
Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Cluj-Napoca

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