Rapid development of vasopressin resistance in dietary K+ deficiency

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The association between diabetes insipidus (DI) and chronic dietary K+ deprivation is well known, but it remains uncertain how the disorder develops and whether it is influenced by the sexual dimorphism in K+ handling. Here, we determined the plasma K+ (PK) threshold for DI in male and female mice and ascertained if DI is initiated by polydipsia or by a central or nephrogenic defect. C57BL6J mice were randomized to a control diet or to graded reductions in dietary K+ for 8 days, and kidney function and transporters involved in water balance were characterized. We found that male and female mice develop polyuria and secondary polydipsia. Altered water balance coincided with a decrease in aquaporin-2 (AQP2) phosphorylation and apical localization despite increased levels of the vasopressin surrogate marker copeptin. No change in the protein abundance of urea transporter-A1 was observed. The Na+-K+-2Cl_ cotransporter decreased only in males. Desmopressin treatment failed to reverse water diuresis in K+-restricted mice. These findings indicate that even a small fall in PK is associated with nephrogenic DI (NDI), coincident with the development of altered AQP2 regulation, implicating low PK as a causal trigger of NDI. We found that PK decreased more in females, and, consequently, females were more prone to develop NDI. Together, these data indicate that AQP2 regulation is disrupted by a small decrease in PK and that the response is influenced by sexual dimorphism in K+ handling. These findings provide new insights into the mechanisms linking water and K+ balances and support defining the disorder as "potassium-dependent NDI."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F748-F760
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Aquaporin-2
  • Cellular remodeling
  • Potassium
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Vasopressin resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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