Aquaporins in complex tissues: Distribution of aquaporins 1-5 in human and rat eye

Steffen Hamann, Thomas Zeuthen, Morten La Cour, Erlend A. Nagelhus, Ole Petter Ottersen, Peter Agre, Søren Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


Multiple physiological fluid movements are involved in vision. Here we define the cellular and subcellular sites of aquaporin (AQP) water transport proteins in human and rat eyes by immunoblotting, high-resolution immunocytochemistry, and immunoelectron microscopy. AQP3 is abundant in bulbar conjunctival epithelium and glands but is only weakly present in corneal epithelium. In contrast, AQP5 is prominent in corneal epithelium and apical membranes of lacrimal acini. AQP1 is heavily expressed in scleral fibroblasts, corneal endothelium and keratocytes, and endothelium covering the trabecular meshwork and Schlemm's canal. Although AQP1 is plentiful in ciliary nonpigmented epithelium, it is not present in ciliary pigmented epithelium. Posterior and anterior epithelium of the iris and anterior lens epithelium also contain significant amounts of AQP1, but AQP0 (major intrinsic protein of the lens) is expressed in lens fiber cells. Retinal Muller cells and astrocytes exhibit notable concentrations of AQP4, whereas neurons and retinal pigment epithelium do not display aquaporin immunolabeling. These studies demonstrate selective expression of AQP1, AQP3, AQP4, and AQP5 in distinct ocular epithelia, predicting specific roles for each in the complex network through which water movements occur in the eye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C1332-C1345
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number5 43-5
StatePublished - May 1998


  • Cornea
  • Lens
  • Retina
  • Uvea
  • Water transporters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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